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“Subway Women” and the American Near East Relief in Anatolia, 1919–1924

  • Anat Lapidot-Firilla
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Abstract

The history of the twentieth century, noted Akira Iriye, was written mainly as the history of states, but at least in the American context should be viewed mainly as a history of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) (Iriye 1999: 425). While NGOs became part of the research mainstream in certain areas, mostly among social scientists, historians have been slow to make use of the literature and use it in their writings on the history of the twentieth century (ibid.: 424). What is true for American history is also very much the case for Middle East history. Indeed, with few exceptions most diplomatic historians who focus on the late-Ottoman and early—Turkish Republic period have ignored the importance of international NGOs and concentrated mainly on official diplomacy at a state-to-state level. One outcome of this neglect is the belated acknowledgment of the contribution of such organizations as Near East Relief (NER) to the spread of American values, culture, and products abroad. Another result of overlooking international NGOs was the sidelining of women, central activists in such organizations, to the margins of diplomatic history. This chapter seeks to demarginalize women’s activity as well as to decode the nature of the religion-gender-politics triangle in which women operated and that they helped to shape.

Keywords

Middle East Rescue Home Christian Woman Greek Hospital Image Courtesy 
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Copyright information

© The Van Leer Jerusalem Institute and the Women’s Studies in Religion Program, Harvard Divinity School 2009

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  • Anat Lapidot-Firilla

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