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‘This age is the age of associations’: committees, petitions, and the roots of interwar Middle Eastern internationalism*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 July 2012

Andrew Arsan*
110 Jones Hall, Princeton, NJ 08544, USA E-mail:


This article examines three diasporic campaigns orchestrated by Middle Eastern political entrepreneurs in Paris, New York, and Cairo, in the years bookending the First World War. Mobilizing across borders, their organizers were exemplary denizens of the transnational public sphere created by Ottoman migrants from the 1880s onwards. Exponents of globalism, they regarded the body politic as a diasporic construct unconstrained by territory. Furthermore, they saw the associations that they founded both as instruments of civility capable of reforming society and as practical political vehicles, mouthpieces for the claims that they communicated to the ‘community of nations’ through petitions and telegrams. Such strategies of appeal suggest that many of the features of ‘interwar’ Middle Eastern internationalism emerged not in response to the post-war settlement but in the last decades of Ottoman rule. This article therefore contributes to our understanding of the histories of globalism, the practices and perceptions of public life, and the engagement of non-Western people with international society.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2012

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