“Part of a Whole”: Anti-Fascists, Internationalists, and Suffragettes in the Levant, 1920-1950
Part of a Whole is a history of internationalism, revolutionary thought, and intellectual life in Lebanon. It is a book project that I will revise and finalize during my EUME Fellowship in 2022/23. The book combines social and biographic history with intellectual global history approaches to chronicle the political organization and activism of a group of Arab intellectuals – mostly Lebanese men and women – who advocated for social justice, international solidarity, democratic principles, and suffrage. It is an intellectual and cultural history that recovers the ways Arab intellectuals engaged with the political sphere and negotiated their relevance in universal terms during the formative period of the emerging order of state and community in the Levant. Although the book chronicles the foundations of the Lebanese left, it is not an institutional history of the communist party. Rather, this book exemplifies the ideological fluidity that characterized the interwar period by focusing on individuals who, although adhered to a leftist worldview, represented the porousness of affinities by combining various causes and crossing certain political boundaries that would become more rigid with time. The collective biography this book narrates includes individuals who fought with the International Brigades in the Spanish Civil War, some who participated in the Brussels meeting of the international League Against Imperialism, one who became the first Arab woman to run for parliament, and others who were imprisoned for aiding the revolutionaries of the Great Syrian Revolt.
Red Flags in the Streets of Beirut: An Intellectual History of the Lebanese Left, 1920-1948
The project combines social and biographic history with intellectual history approaches to recover the ways Arab leftist intellectuals engaged with the political sphere and negotiated their presence within new structures of power emerging in post-war Lebanon. It is an intellectual history of a generation of leftists who were active in Lebanon, and more generally in the Levant, between the years 1920 and 1948. Tannoury-Karam chronicles the political organization and activism of a group of intellectuals who advocated for social justice, the international solidarity of the working class, the need to fight capitalism, and the interconnectivity between the class struggle and the anti-imperialist struggle. She examines how this milieu of leftists built upon the intellectual traditions of the nineteenth-century Nahda and pushed its temporal limits and its scope by further politicizing the role and figure of the ‘intellectual’ (al-muthaqqaf). The project shows how Arab leftists combined commitments to internationalism, nationalism, and anti-imperialism, and how they deliberately sought to be local and global actors simultaneously. Contrary to mainstream nationalist elites who dominated the political parties of the Mandate era, these Arab leftists opposed sectarian politics propagated by local elite and colonial administrators, organized against the rise of fascism, demanded political rights for women, and fought against the growing capitalist pull in the absence of laws to protect workers and peasants.