Using the extension of the telegraph line from Damascus to Medina at the turn of the 20th century as a case study, and relying on Ottoman and British archival sources, I have closely examined the Ottoman state’s strategy in dealing with the Bedouin population inhabiting these Arabian frontiers of the Ottoman Empire. Analyzing the strategic actions taken by the Ottoman imperial government, which adopted a relatively consistent rhetorical register that contradicts theories of a so-called Ottoman colonial mentality or “Ottoman Orientalism” made popular in the past decade, I will present a revisionist interpretation of the relationship between the various levels of the Ottoman government and the Bedouin tribes living along the path of the Damascus-Hijaz telegraph line.
Mostafa Minawi is Assistant Professor in the History Department at Cornell University.
Professor Eric Tagliacozzo
History Department, Cornell University
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