Toward a New Agenda for Multidisciplinary Research on Modern Middle Eastern History

May 2010

The aim of the exploratory workshop is to bring together a group of international scholars to discuss the many academic and methodological implications of Martha Mundy's new book, Governing Property, Making the Modern State: Law, Administration and Production in Ottoman Syria(2007). This pathbreaking work, which has been two decades in the making, provides for the first time a detailed and archive-based account of ways in which the Ottoman government attempted to provide individual title to the lands farmed by certain villages in what is now the northern district of Trans-Jordan.

The subject of land registration, though written about quite extensively in general, has never before been treated either with such a level of theoretical sophistication or in such a locally specific way. Not the least of its many virtues is how it presents a way of thinking about the development of Middle Eastern rural property relations that should be instantly recognizable to the peoples of the region.