The Formation and Perception of the Modern Arab World: Studies

Publication Year



Edited by Lawrence I. Conrad, Ph.D. 1981

This volume presents a selection of twenty-seven studies by the late Marwan R. Buheiry, whose premature death in 1986 deprived Arab scholarship of one of its most original and stimulating thinkers.

An avid student of political power, economics, and the arts, he was keenly aware of the finer nuances of language and diplomacy, had a marvellous grasp of the theory and practice of economics, and was endlessly fascinated by the possibilities inherent in the history of art. A scholar of uncompromising integrity, he was a tireless advocate for a critical and comprehensive approach to historical problems.

Buheiry had been an active participant in the lively interchange of ideas that was characteristic of the Beirut intellectual scene, and many of his studies appeared in French or Arabic in publications rarely encountered outside the Arab world and not found in the collections of even major centres of Arabic Middle Eastern studies in the West. This volume draws together the most important of these essays and presents Buheiry’s scholarship to a much wider audience. Many of these essays appear in English for the first time and are taken from the original and hitherto unpublished English versions found among the author’s papers.

The essays and articles reprinted in this volume fall under four main themes: European perceptions of the Orient; the superpowers and the Arab world; the economic history of the Middle East; and intellectual and artistic history. In all these themes Buheiry was concerned with the unravelling of illusions. Though himself unattached to any ideology or creed, he was sensitive to the impact that such attachment could have on the lives of others. His work reflects the depth and sophistication of his analysis of historical developments, the breadth of his interests and expertise, and his ability both to achieve new insights from already familiar sources and to appreciate the historical potential and importance of previously unexploited material and data. The essays republished in this volume are thus important not only for their specific conclusions, but also for the way in which they suggest possibilities for further research.


PART I – European Perceptions of the Orient

  1. Changes in French colonial perceptions, 1780-1830: from the New World to Egypt and Algeria
  2. The conquest of Algeria and the apocalyptic vision of la Gervaisais
  3. Planat de la Faye: A critic of France’s Algerian mission
  4. Tocqueville on Islam
  5. Islam and the Foreign Office: an investigation of religious and political revival in 1873
  6. Theodor Herzl and the Armenian Question
  7. Colonial scholarship and Muslim revivalism in 1900

PART II – The Superpowers and the Arab World

  1. External interventions and internal wars in Lebanon: 1770-1982
  2. The Israel-South Africa alliance and the Third World
  3. Alfred T. Mahan: reflections on sea power and on the Middle East as strategic concept
  4. Antony Eden and the Arabs: The Failure of a Polic
  5. From Truman to Kissinger: American policy-making and the Middle East
  6. The Atlantic Alliance and the Middle East in the early 1950s and today: retrospect and prospect
  7. US threats of intervention against Arab oil: 1973-79
  8. The United States, the Arab-Israel conflict, and the Palestine Question in 1974
  9. The United States, the Arab-Israeli conflict, and the Palestine Question in 1975
  10. The Saunders Document
  11. The United States, the Arab-Israeli conflict, and the Palestine Question in 1976
  12. Realities and illusions in America’s Middle Eastern policy

    PART III – Economic History of the Middle East

  1. The rise of the city of Beirut
  2. British official sources and the economic history of Lebanon: 1835-1914
  3. The Peasant Revolt of 1858 in Mount Lebanon: rising expectations, economic malaise, and the incentive to arm
  4. The agricultural exports of Southern Palestine, 1885-1914
  5. Beirut’s role in the political economy of the French Mandate: 1919-1939

    PART IV – Intellectual and Artistic History

  1. The camera-eye in nineteenth-century Lebanon
  2. Notes on the beginning of the English open-air theatre at the SPC and its social context
  3. Bulus Nujaym and the Grand Liban Ideal, 1908-1919
  4. Vignettes from the Marwan R. Buheiry photograph collection


Darwin Press
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