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An Uneasy Historiography: The Legacy Of Ottoman Architecture In The Former Arab Provinces

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Chapter Summary

This chapter examines the historiography of the architecture of the Ottoman Empire in the former Arab provinces. It clarifies two key issues implicit in the title: First, Ottoman architecture was an artifact of empire; it was both an imperial project, a centrally planned network of buildings and spaces disseminated throughout the territories of the Sultan, and the result of countless local initiatives that wove their own complex web of formal and institutional relationships with the center and with other imperial provinces. Second, the Ottoman provinces in North Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, and the Middle East south of Anatolia was not always conceived as a unified cultural area, known as "the Arab world", that transcended historical change. The chapter also examines two key intersections of architecture and historiography, namely, Egypt around 1870 and Syria around 1930, to establish a general framework for the study of modern writing on the visible past.

Keywords: Anatolia; Arabian Peninsula; Egypt; former Arab provinces; historiography; North Africa; Ottoman architecture; Syria



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