Cluster: Processes of Transformation in Urban and Rural Societies

A miller in Nahr Ustuwan, Lebanon © Stephen McPhillips

The projects in this research cluster share a focus on the effects of change, transformation and long-term development in both urban and rural societies of the Middle East since 1500. They aim to shed light on the constitutive fabric of urban-rural relations in the political, administrative, economic and cultural life of Middle Eastern societies. With a particular emphasis on often overlooked and marginalised groups and settings, such as the Bedouin or rural areas in general, we counter the widespread neglect of a wide range of non-urban and non-elite actors in scholarly research as well as in political analysis.

The cluster puts those interactions and correlations centre stage that link specific urban and rural societies of Bilad al-Sham with social, political and economic trends and stimuli on local, regional, imperial and global levels. Special attention is paid to the impact of environmental factors. We posit that the intensification of such links during the time under investigation is of particular interest to help understand the region’s past and present.

The discussion group Ruralities: Lebanon and beyond is one of the activities of the cluster. It adopts a cross-disciplinary approach that promises new insights into the workings of rural and urban societies as well as keys to understanding the historical trajectories of state formation in the Eastern Mediterranean. Interested in diverse aspects of rural life from a long-term perspective, this network of researchers and activists aims to discuss recent approaches to rural history and opens a forum for the debate of new research angles and projects.

Cluster Projects:


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