Beyond the conceptual barriers between religious minority and majority within the Near East, the historical events marking the experience of the Christian Arab tribes of Transjordan clarifies the meaning and scope of the modernization process that took place within this land during the 19th century. A fundamental legacy on which the Hashemite state was erected during the first half of the 20th century. The result of this process was the intertwine and overlap of tribal culture and religious community, a dynamic triggered by different socio-political actors such as Ottoman officials, Christian missionaries and merchants from Syria and Palestine. Nonetheless, modernity was not only the result of an imposition from outside and from above, but was produced by a constant dialectical relationship of cooperation, mediation and reaction between natives and the external actors who began operating within Transjordan from the mid-19th century. Accordingly, analyzing the development of the institution of the religious community within Transjordan addresses the issue of transition “from the tribe to the religious community” within the broader dynamic “from the tribes to the state”, providing a non-culturalist explanation of how tribalism was able to reproduce its logics within the Ottoman political field during the mid-19th century and then within the Hashemite state during the early decades of the 20th century. The prologue “Arab Christians and Arab Muslims in the history of Transjordan” details the longue durée historical presence of Arab Christians within Transjordan and their socio-political relationship with Arab Muslims through the centuries. The paragraph “The legal relationship between Arab Christians and Arab Muslims in the history of Transjordan” reconsiders the legal and administrative aspects of the cohabitation between Muslims and Christians. The analyzes points out the original bond between Christianity and tribalism within the land of Transjordan. Before Islam, tribalism already represented the common cultural dimension of most of the inhabitants of this territory which distinguished them from the roman-byzantine citizens of Decapolis. Being tribes, allowed them to reach a mutual agreement with Muslim tribes outside religious matters. During the Abbasid Caliphate, the land of Transjordan experienced a period of economic crises. Most of the settlements disappeared and this territory became a land of tribes. Isolated and economically marginal, the land of Transjordan gave birth to semi-autonomous local tribal systems. Accordingly, the traditional legal institute of dhimma was not imposed within this isolated land. Tribal custom – ‘urf – was predominant, a shared cultural system of values which favoured the emersion of mixed tribal socio-political allies where both Muslim and Christian Arab tribes cooperated or clashed outside their specific religious affiliations. The first chapter “Transjordan at the time of the sheikh” details the salient aspects of the tribal culture within Transjordan at the beginning of the 19th century. Ottoman administrative divisions and local tribal systems and allies are analyzed. The chapter describes the significant aspects of the Tanzimat Reforms within the territory. Moreover, the revival of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, the foundation of Protestant missionary activities within the Holy Land and the condition of the Greek-Orthodox Patriarchate are reconsidered in order to give an insight into the socio-political and cultural aspects which characterized some of the actors of the development that took roots within Transjordan during the second half of the 19th century. Finally, the chapter analyses the imposition of the Ottoman direct authority within Transjordanian districts. The role of external socio-political actors, such as missionaries, merchants and Ottoman officials, are detailed as that of the local Muslim and Christians tribes. The development process of the mid-19th century was not only triggered from above, thanks to non-Transjordanian actors, but it was also influenced by local tribes which opposing or participating to this period of change introduced their logics within a new socio-political field. The second and the third chapters “Tribes and Christian missionaries within the Ottoman Transjordan” and “The end of an era. Christian missions and the tribes of Transjordan during the First World War” detail the most important aspects of the encounter between missionaries and local Christian tribes through a micro-historical analysis of the Transjordanian districts from the mid-19th century till the out-break of the First World War. The chapters analyze different stages of transition in which the local socio-political spaces were reconfigured according to logics of power “old” and “new”. From one side, the missionaries developed and spread the institution of the religious community, founding missionary establishments where they offered health care and educational services. From the other, the local tribes that opposed or hosted them in order to influence and headed their activities. The overlapping and intertwining process describes this encounter, a dialectical relationship that involved local population, Christian missionaries and Ottoman officials. Finally, the forth chapter “The Great War of 1914-1918. Transjordan at the dawn of the Hashemite Emirate” analyses post-war period during which Transjordan became part of the Kingdom of Syria under Emir Faysal. The chapter concludes with the Ma‘an’s meeting when Emir ‘Abdallah entered within the land of Transjordan, sanctioning the beginning of a transition period from which would emerge the Hashemite Emirate of Transjordan. The fall of the Ottoman Empire favoured the re-emersion of past tribal systems. Local tribes re-conquered their military power and begun to re-impose autonomously their authority. Nonetheless, during this period local tribal systems showed to have been deeply affected by the previous decades of change under the direct authority of Istanbul. Tribalism returned to be politically dominant, notwithstanding, tribes displayed to be perfectly aware about the new political conditions within Near East. The fall of Damascus brought the end of this experience. Great Britain gained the right to mange the territory. London tried to administrate indirectly Transjordan. Autonomous local government were recognized within the past Ottoman districts. The failure of this system and the arrival of Emir ‘Abdallah opened Transjordan to a new political phase, the state building process of the Hashemite Emirate of Transjordan. The overlapping process started again and a new dialectical confrontation began between the local population, British officials and the Hashemite entourage. This chapter concludes pointing out the most important results of the overlapping and intertwining process of the 19th and 20th century. The socio-political role of Christian religious minority within the land of Transjordan from the Ottoman state to the Hashemite Emirate is analyzed. The book adopts an historical approach using archival documents and memories of some relevant Transjordanians collected during field work carried out in Jordan between 2008 and 2009.
Superando le consuete barriere concettuali di minoranza e maggioranza all’interno del Vicino Oriente, la vicenda storica che ha contraddistinto l’esperienza delle tribù arabe cristiane di Transgiordania chiarisce il significato e la portata del processo di modernizzazione che ebbe luogo in questa terra durante il XIX secolo. Una fase storica determinante per la comprensione dell’opera di fondazione dello stato hashemita agli esordi del XX secolo. Il risultato di tale processo fu la sovrapposizione e l’intreccio tra la dimensione pre-moderna della cultura tribale del luogo e quella moderna di matrice occidentale introdotta nel territorio da attori politico-sociali esterni quali funzionari ottomani, missionari cristiani e mercanti provenienti dai territori di Siria e Palestina. La modernità così prodottasi non fu quindi solo frutto di un’imposizione dall’esterno e dall’alto, bensì rappresentò il risultato di una costante relazione dialettica di cooperazione, mediazione e reazione tra il territorio e i soggetti esterni che iniziarono a operare in Transgiordania a partire dalla metà del XIX secolo. In tal senso l’analisi delle modalità secondo cui si diffuse l’istituto della comunità religiosa all’interno della Transgiordania chiarisce alcuni aspetti della transizione “dalla tribù allo stato”, fornendo una spiegazione non culturalista di come il tribalismo poté riprodursi all’interno dello spazio politico ottomano ottocentesco e in quello hashemita dei primi decenni del Novecento.
Maggiolini, P. M. L. C., Arabi Cristiani di Transgiordania. Spazi politici e cultura tribale (1841-1922), FrancoAngeli, Milano 2011:<<POLITICA-STUDI>>, 323 [http://hdl.handle.net/10807/93170]