André Raymond: A Turning Point in Arab Urban History

André Raymond is one of the leading urban historians studying on the Arab provinces of the Ottoman Empire. He had a critical view of the theoretical framework -namely the paradigm of ‘Islamic city', and hence that of orientalism since the latter prepared the ground for the former- within which studies focused on this region were structured mostly by French urban historians for more than a century (1830–1950). In his studies from the 1960s onwards, Raymond shows rigorously and repetitively that the Arab cities had their inner cohesion and own way of working. While keeping the differences in mind, he finds it plausible to mention a category of ‘Arab city'. He deals with the social, economic, physical, political and administrative aspects of these cities, and shows that Ottoman administration means a development in terms of urbanization, trade and industry. Distinguished also by his methodology, Raymond situates the Arab cities in a comparative perspective with other cities of the world and emphasises the importance of the effect of Mediterranean region. Following the changes and continuities are of great significance for him. While emphasising the originality of Ottoman period he also underlines the continuities that Ottoman administration took over from their predecessors. The changes introduced by him are tried to be captured by reviewing in detail two of his studies, the corner stones both in urban history of the region and in the career of Raymond as an urban historian. In addition, by refering to other studies and articles by Raymond, almost the whole range of his studies is tried to be covered.


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