Untold Histories of the Middle East: Recovering Voices from the 19th and 20th Centuries

Publication Year



Much traditional historiography consciously and unconsciously glosses over certain discourses, narratives, and practices. This book examines silences or omissions in Middle Eastern history at the turn of the twenty-first century, to give a fuller account of the society, culture and politics.

With a particular focus on the Ottoman Empire, Turkey, Egypt, Iran and Palestine, the contributors consider how and why such silences occur, as well as the timing and motivation for breaking them. Introducing unexpected, sometimes counter-intuitive, issues in history, chapters examine:

  • women and children survivors of the Armenian massacres in 1915
  • Greek-Orthodox subjects who supported the Ottoman empire and the formation of the Turkish republic
  • the conflicts among Palestinians during the revolt of 1936-39
  • pre-marital sex in modern Egypt
  • Arab authors writing about the Balkans
  • the economic, not national or racial, origins of anti-Armenian violence
  • the European women who married Muslim Egyptians

Drawing on a wide range of sources and methodologies, such as interviews; newly-discovered archives; fictional accounts; and memoirs, each chapter analyses a story and its suppression, considering how their absences have affected our previous understandings of the history of the Middle East.

Table of Contents

Introduction : resounding silent voices / Selçuk Aksin Somel, Christoph K. Neumann, and Amy Singer -- Unraveling layers of gendered silencing : converted Armenian survivors of the 1915 catastrophe / Ayse Gül Altinay and Yektan Türkyilmaz -- Interfaith unions and non-Muslim wives in the early twentieth-century Alexandria Islamic courts / Hanan Kholoussy -- The silence of the pregnant bride : non-marital sex in Middle Eastern societies / Liat Kozma -- Silent voices within the elites : the social biography of a modern shaykh / Yoav Alon -- A nationalist discourse of heroism and treason : the construction of an "official" image of Çerkes Ethem (1886-1948) in Turkish historiography, and recent challenges / Bülent Bilmez -- On the margins of national historiography : the Greek Ittihatçi Emmanouil Emmanouilidis : opportunist or Ottoman patriot? / Vangelis Kechriotis -- The Ottoman Empire's absent nineteenth century : autonomous subjects / Christine Philliou -- Looking behind Hajji Baba of Ispahan : the case of Mirza Abul Hasan Khan / Ilchi Shirazi Naghmeh Sohrabi -- Between the Balkan wars (1912-13) and the "Third Balkan War" of the 1990s : the memory of the Balkans in Arabic Writings / Eyal Ginio -- The courts of the Palestinian-Arab revolt, 1936-1939 / Mustafa Kabha -- Multiplicity or polarity : a discursive analysis of post-1908 violence in an Ottoman region / Meltem Toksöz.

Series Title
SOAS/Routledge studies on the Middle East
London and New York
Cloth: 9780415570107: paper: 9781138788893; ebook: 9780203845363