Nafir Suriyya (1860-61): Towards a Conceptual History of the Nahda


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Monday, 9 September, 2019 - 18:00
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Jens Hanssen is Associate Professor of History at the University of Toronto. He has published extensively on urban history and intellectual history in the Arab World. Among his recent publications are Arabic Thought Against the Authoritarian Age: Towards an Intellectual History of the Present (2018), Arabic Thought beyond the Liberal Age: Towards and Intellectual History of the Nahda (2017) and Fin de Siècle Beirut; the Making of an Ottoman Provincial more

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When “The Clarion of Syria” was penned between September 1860 and April 1861, its anonymous author – “a patriot” – had just witnessed his homeland undergo unprecedented violence in what many today consider Lebanon’s first civil war. Drawing on Reinhardt Kosellek’s semantic triad: event-history-language, I argue this event also marked a rupture in Arabic intellectual and conceptual history. Nafir Suriyya was a foundational text of the Nahda that inaugurated the search for new vocabulary to capture modern phenomena and socio-political developments.