The Nation Belongs to All: The Making of Modern Syria (contracted for publication with Allen Lane)

Although Syria has never been far from the news in recent years, the country’s history and politics remain unfamiliar to the general public. Avoiding the simplistic assumptions that today’s conflict is caused by ancient religious rivalries or the Sykes-Picot Agreement, The Nation Belongs to All tells a very different story about Syria. In part, Syria is a story of economic inequality, social transformation, and the quest for justice. But the history of Syria is also a story of its ‘making’: how different regions and communities were transformed by the unfolding of new infrastructures, institutions, and political projects in the eastern Mediterranean from the 1800s to the 2010. The current conflict can only be understood in the context of political struggle, economic restructuring, and popular protest that motivate social justice movements across the Middle East & North Africa,  and across the world as a whole.

Occupying Syria under the French Mandate: Insurgency, Space and State Formation (Cambridge University Press, 2012) .

The first seven years of the French occupation of Syria (1920-27) were marked by bloody conflicts between armed Syrian insurgents and French military forces. However, I argue that, even in a situation of outright confrontation, colonial violence was not employed rationally, as a neutral or instrumental means to achieve military victory over Syrian insurgents. Instead, colonial violence was shaped by colonial officials’ cultural and practical understandings of how best to organize, control, and understand Syrian society, geography and population. Occupying Syria traces these practices of occupation, patterned violence, and spatial order across a variety of domains: colonial counter-insurgency and desert policing, military orders and guerrilla handbooks, urban planning and engineering, intelligence gathering and colonial ethnography. Based on extensive research in French colonial, military, and diplomatic archives, and drawing on wide-ranging sources in Arabic, this interdisciplinary monograph contributes to ongoing debates about state formation, violence, and colonial power in historical sociology, post-colonial studies, and Middle East Studies.