At the Edge of the Times: Rethinking the 1834 Revolt in Ottoman Palestine

Historiography of the Middle East

At the Edge of the Times: Rethinking the 1834 Revolt in Ottoman Palestine

Image by Habib Ibrahim Sim‘an (Haifa, October 2017).

Monday, February 26, 2024
3:00 PM
Bunche Hall, Rm 10383

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Part of a manuscript on Palestine's revolutions in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, this paper revisits the 1834 Revolt in Ottoman Palestine against the conscripting powers of the modern Khedival state to consider a rebellion at the edge of the times. By probing the events of the revolt as well as the legal and political reforms to which it responded, I ask: What discourse illuminates the revolt of Muslim men against their conscription to a standing army? Was this revolt limited to evading conscription, or did it present a greater critique of the conscripting powers of the modern state? Must an account of this revolt insist on including it in the Age of Revolution, or might we resist the impulse to include by inquiring into the juridico-political conceptual universe--other than the general labels of the pre-modern revolt or, conversely, the post-French Revolution--to which the Revolt belonged? How to glimpse the terms and the challenge of a revolt unfolding at the edge of an Ottoman world that was and another to come, as well as against the background of emergent territorial states, regularized conscript armies, and an international stage? And what potentiality does the 1834 Revolt continue to store for the present? This talk lingers with this temporal threshold to illuminate a struggle at the edge of the times—then and now.  


Samera Esmeir is associate professor in the Department of Rhetoric at the University of California, Berkeley. She is the author of Juridical Humanity: A Colonial History (Stanford University Press, 2012) and the senior editor of Critical Times: Interventions in Global Critical Theory. She is currently completing a book on Palestine’s revolutions during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Titled The Struggle that Remains: Between World and International, the book tracks the modern entry of the word international into the English language, theorizes its emergence as a contending signifier of the world (in legal and political discourse), and explores its reconfiguration of the horizons of revolutionary struggle in Palestine.


Sponsor(s): Center for Near Eastern Studies