‘Minorities’ and the French Mandate

Benjamin Thomas White

in The Emergence of Minorities in the Middle East

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print July 2011 | ISBN: 9780748641871
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748653287 | DOI:
‘Minorities’ and the French Mandate

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In the new nation-states of the post-war period in central and eastern Europe, and in what became the Republic of Turkey, the relationship between each state and its new minorities was bilateral, despite the existence of external intervention by the League of Nations. In Syria, and the other states of Levant, the relationship however between the new states and the minorities was mediated by a third factor: imperial occupation. Rather than being acknowledged as a fully independent nation-state, Syria was provisionally recognised as independent and was under the mandatory tutelage of France. This chapter discusses the emergence of ‘minorities’ in Syria in the context of the French mandate. Doing this with a critical understanding allows the refinement of the earlier analyses of French policy in Syria as one of ‘divide and rule’ based on using ‘minorities’ to offset the ‘majority’. The chapter focuses on the interplay between two distinct factors: first, the policies the French put in place in Syria in order to create structure, and further the divisions between Syria's diverse communities; and second, the transition of Syria to a nation-state form.

Keywords: nation-states; state; Levant; Syria; minorities; French mandate; divide and rule

Chapter.  10842 words. 

Subjects: Society and Culture

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