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No myopic mirage: Alexander and Patrick Russell in Aleppo



Alexander Russell, M.D. (1715?-1768), with the Levant Company in Aleppo between 1740 and 1753, wrote The Natural History of Aleppo (1756); the 1794 edition was edited by his half-brother, Patrick Russell, M.D. (1726-1805). In the two editions these Scottish doctors enthusiastically describe Aleppo's opulent and orderly world. An abbreviated version, A Description of Aleppo and the Adjacent Parts (c. 1757), presumably for popular consumption, presents some of Alexander's observations. By exploring this description, traditionally placed within the Natural Scientific tradition of the eighteenth century, the aim of the essay is to explore concepts across the academic divide between history and anthropology.
No Myopic Mirage:
Alexander and Patrick Russell in Aleppo
Janet C. M. Starkey
Institute for Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Durham
Alexander Russell, M.D. (1715?1768), with the Levant Company in
Aleppo between 1740 and 1753, wrote The Natural History of Aleppo
(1756); the 1794 edition was edited by his half-brother, Patrick
Russell, M.D. (17261805). In the two editions these Scottish doctors
enthusiastically describe Aleppo’s opulent and orderly world. An
abbreviated version, A Description of Aleppo and the Adjacent Parts
(c. 1757), presumably for popular consumption, presents some of
Alexander’s observations. By exploring this description, traditionally
placed within the Natural Scientific tradition of the eighteenth century,
the aim of the essay is to explore concepts across the academic divide
between history and anthropology.
[Aleppo] [History of Medicine][historical anthropology][Alexander
Russell][Patrick Russell][eighteenth-century travellers][Ottoman
Mrs Janet C.M. Starkey, lecturer in the Anthropology of the Middle
East, Institute for Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies, University of
Durham, The Al-Qasimi Building, Elvet Hill Road, Durham DH1
3TU. e-mail:
From Herodotus (c. 450 BC) and other classical writers onwards,
travellers explored the Levant and brought back ethnographic
information about Aleppo and its environs through their travel
writings. Manuscripts on the experiences of travellers, explorers,
naturalists, and colonial administrators grew in number from the
eighteenth century onwards. These travel writings contain a wealth of
information about the cultures and peoples of the Middle East and
provide “a fascinating array of perspectives on a set of historical,
literary and cultural relationships about which lively debate is certain
to continue” (Starkey 2001: 6). The Russells, as medical practitioners
who stayed for years in Aleppo, can avoid the condemnation meted
out to more recent travel books, Paul Theroux’s The Pillars of
Hercules: a grand tour of the Mediterranean, for example. There is a
danger that such observations are based on superficial contact and that
accidental events may mistakenly be given deeper, if pleasant,
meaning: “Across the low hills some miles further on were minarets
and citadel on a bluff, and squat buildings: Aleppo. After all the small
towns and villages of the Turkish Hatay, this was like my myopic
mirage, the distant vision which blurs and produces a sort of Middle
East capriccio, blending beautiful rotting buildings with ugly new
ones, the whole of it sifted and sprinkled with dust. Many places in the
eastern Mediterranean looked that way to me, a hotchpotch of
building styles surmounted by earthen-colored domes and the slender
pencils of minarets the chaotic and friendly city of Aleppo”
(Theroux 1995: 4267, 429).
Anthropology’s philosophic and scientific antecedents lie in the
Enlightenment, with the beginning of scientific methodological
recording based on the idea that Natural Scientists could discover the
truth about how the world operated through empirical investigation.
Documentaries provided by travellers, full of ethnographic content,
were often placed in an historical framework along with conceptions
of “the primitive”, “the savage”, the “exotic Other”. These books were
the basis of many political and philosophical theories from Rousseau
to Marxism, and Lévi-Strauss. Many British anthropologists see the
core of their discipline has become refocused primarily onto
applications of anthropology: gender, health, and development studies.
These genres, a number of texts with a shared set of conventions, by-
pass much of the philosophical and anthropological debate favoured in
France and stimulated by Michel Foucault, Claude Lévi-Strauss,
Pierre Bourdieu and Edward Said ideas that could be usefully
associated with the study of travel literature or historical descriptions.
1. Historical Anthropology?
Anthropology and the associated study of ethnographies, nevertheless,
have been through a recent revolution that has gained increasing
momentum since the 1970s. This revolution has blurred disciplinary
boundaries and has changed the nature of the questions some
anthropologists are asking today. Indeed, one could contend that the
discipline itself has changed though still based primarily on research
through field studies.
Ethnography has been defined as “the study of a group of living
people how they live, how they interact, what they believe, how they
behave, what kinds of objects they use, and what they do. It focuses
on one group at one place in time ethnographers … generally spend
a great deal of time living with and interacting with the group of
people they are studying.”
Today, ethnographers no longer assume
that culture (or identity) is a given with different parts of the social
structure functioning to complete the whole, but argue, rather, that it
has to be explained. If culture persists, or identities of ethnicity,
gender, religious group and so on are key features of culture marked
by cultural boundaries, then we must try to understand how they are
constructed and reconstructed over time.
Many anthropologists, from Structuralists to Marxists, have turned
to history and to historical ethnography as the way forward, whilst
some anthropologists, including John and Jean Comaroff (1992) and
Marshall Sahlins (1985: 13656), advocate a genuine marriage of
history and ethnography with research focused on the intersection of
culture and history. The anthropological “school” of thought known as
Historical Ethnography has emerged from this revolution, an approach
coming primarily from the University of Chicago. As Marshall
Sahlins wrote: “Practice has clearly gone beyond the theoretical
differences that are supposed to divide anthropology and history”
(1985: 72). For Sahlins, historical ethnography often focuses on the
politics of colonialism and its historiography as it is reflected, for
example, in myth, ethnography and material culture. A study using the
Chicago School approach would also be termed “historical
anthropology”, often as a study of a present-day culture in which the
anthropologist takes account of that society’s historical background
through life histories, myths, material culture, but as it effects the
present dynamics of social change or social memory.
Sahlins’ approach goes beyond Evans-Pritchard’s famous Marett
lecture, given in 1950, that exhorted structural-functional
anthropologists to include a study of history in their methodology:
“What anthropologists [ethnographers!] have in fact chiefly been
doing is to write cross-sections of history, integrative descriptive
accounts …. at a moment in time” (1950: 11824). Evans-Prichard did
not argue that anthropology should be history but should be like
history in its methodological procedures. He identified three levels of
anthropological inquiry of increasing abstraction, each of which
Evans-Prichard thought had parallels to historiography: first, the
anthropologist initially tries to understand another society and to
translate it into his/her own society’s terms. The only difference here
between the historian’s and the anthropologist’s approach is that the
historian depends on engaging indirectly through the medium of
archives whilst the anthropologist uses direct fieldwork encounters
and participant observation. Secondly, after extracting data from
archives or field experiences the anthropologist and the historian try to
make their object worlds sociologically intelligible. Thirdly, “the
anthropologist compares the social structures his analysis has revealed
in a wide range of societies” (1950: 149).
So how does ethnography relate to historical description? We do
not need to assume that ethnography is a distinct discipline from
history. As Anthony Giddens wrote: “If social science is not, and
cannot be, the history of the present, and if it is not, and cannot be,
concerned simply with generalizations out of time and place, what
distinguishes social science from history? I think we have to reply, as
Durkheim did … nothing —nothing, that is, which is conceptually
coherent or intellectually defensible. If there are divisions between
social science and history, they are substantive divisions of labour;
there is no logical or methodological schism” (1984: 358).
As anthropologists, do we also need to consider whether
ethnographic descriptions in historical texts are merely a micro
version of a macro social history, or something more in line with the
ethnographies we traditionally produce? One additional problem is
how can one combine ethnography and history in such a way as to
capture some of the dynamics of, say, the Levant, without losing
contact with the specificity of local cultural concepts or the essence of
local historical power dynamics?
As early as 1904, the `"Historicist” Franz Boas went as far as to
suggest that “we find in anthropology two distinct methods of research
and aims of investigation: the one, the historical method, which
endeavours to reconstruct the actual history of mankind; the other, the
generalising method, which attempts to establish the laws of
development” (1904: 51324). One can combine these two traditional
polarities, anthropology and history, by applying an anthropological
approach to the study of an ethnographic description, such as The
Natural History of Aleppo,
containing a description of the City, and
the Principal Natural Productions in its Neighbourhood. Together
with an Account of the Climate, Inhabitants and Diseases:
Particularly of the Plague (1756). The book was written at a time
before anthropological traditions and philosophies had been developed
or played out. Is Aleppo an “ethnography” at all, in the modern
anthropological sense, a term that is appropriate, for example, to
Donald Cole’s Nomads of Nomads (1975) but not necessarily to
In his Marett lecture of 1993, J. D. Y. Peel, in his concern for
narrative in historical anthropology, identified a triangle of relations.
First, relations between ethno-history, which he defined as “historical
representations current in any social setting or people” (1995: 583),
and the change sequences it represents. Secondly, relations between
the past or change sequences and the social forms of the present; and,
thirdly, relations between the system of power and the representations
of the past, that is ethno-history. Peel also abandoned the definition of
historical anthropology as “traditional histories of tribal peoples” and,
importantly, recognises that “narrative, as the most spontaneous form
of historical representation, has a central role in this complex of
relations” (1995: 583). Does this also apply to a description such as
Aleppo that, like narrative, is full of descriptions of memories of
events and experiences?
Many of the methodological issues involved in any “historic”
approach remain unresolved. New Historicists criticised the traditional
tendency to treat historical narratives (that is, the recounting a
succession of events) in a vacuum, as if the historical description had
no cultural context. Historians such as Steven Greenblatt (1980) argue
that the best framework for interpreting historical narrative is to place
a text in its cultural and historical context in the light of
contemporaneous debates. History and culture, seen previously as the
“backdrop” to foregrounded text are, instead, an integral part of the
text itself. It might well be useful to adopt a New Historicist stance but
if, according to this tradition, there is no “objectivity”, how can we
explore a text written in the Natural Scientific tradition?
Furthermore, the text can be read as an autobiographical memoir, as
a souvenir of life experiences and social memories; as a record of
extant scientific, social and medical knowledge, as well as mapping
the social space of the eighteenth-century “Islamic city”. As Michel
Foucault stated: “It’s not a matter of locating everything on one level,
that of the event, but of realising that there is actually a whole order of
levels of different types of events, differing in amplitude,
chronological breadth, and capacity to produce (Gordon 1980: 114).
Michael Heckenberger applies this to his analysis of history: “History,
like culture, is not only perspective but scale dependent: what is
appropriate or critical at one level of analysis is invisible, subdued, or
irrelevant at another.”
All these perspectives are part of a major
project to study the text. The purpose of this essay is to outline such
possibilities and set the scene for a subsequent in-depth analysis as the
text is subsequently deconstructed.
2. The Russells and their Text
An eighteenth-century text, written in what is known as the Natural
Scientific tradition, is used to begin to explore ideas about the
interaction of history and anthropology. The text used to illustrate this
essay is an abbreviated version, first published in 1757, of Alexander
Russell’s Natural History of Aleppo (1756). Dr Alexander Russell
(1715?1768) worked with the Levant Company in Aleppo from 1740
to 1753. Originally from Edinburgh, the brothers were, no doubt,
influenced by great philosophers of the Scottish Enlightenment, such
as David Hume, Adam Smith and Adam Ferguson. Given the size and
importance of the city, it is surprising that so little has yet been written
about the city: nor is there, as yet, a book dedicated to the Russells.
Alexander and Patrick Russell, physicians from Edinburgh,
enthusiastically describe Aleppo’s opulent and orderly world of the
mid-eighteenth century in The Natural History of Aleppo (1756):
described by Sarah Searight as “a delightful and exhaustive survey of
the society, flora, fauna and particularly the plague” (on which Patrick
became an expert) of a major Ottoman city. It is a better known and
better written example of erudite travelogue, feeding “somewhat
indigestibly the [West’s] growing curiosity in the eastern
Mediterranean, the Levant and Egypt” (1969: 77). Yet it escapes many
of the features of a classical travel narrative: initiatic quest, nostalgia
and deception and is more than just an ethnographer’s diary. There
is no traveller’s failed journey of disorder or disappointments here.
Instead the Russells’ writing is straightforward, and well ordered, in
the Natural Science tradition that predates the nostalgia beloved of
latter travel writers in their subsequent search for the exotic.
Alexander Russell began writing Aleppo shortly after his arrival in
Aleppo in 1740 and which owed its origin to the suggestion of his
friend, John Fothergill, M.D. The first volume contains a description
of city and inhabitants; Volume II includes natural history,
descriptions of Syria and Aleppo, with details about culture and
customs, monuments, and common diseases: including a vivid
description of the effects of smallpox. It was well reviewed by Dr
Samuel Johnson in the Literary Magazine, translated into German by
Gronovius, and described by Pinkerton, Voyages and Travels, as one
of the most complete pictures of Eastern manners extant. As Robert
Irwin noted, “in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries,
[Aleppo] was regarded as the classic and authorative source on
everyday life in a Muslim country” (2001: 4–6).
An abbreviated version, A Description of Aleppo, and the Adjacent
Parts, presumably for popular consumption, was published in Volume
II of A Compendium of the most Approved Modern Travels in 1757,
with excerpts from other travellers, including the Reverend Henry
Maundrell, chaplain in Aleppo from 1696 to 1697 (Maundrell 1757) ,
Dr Richard Pococke who visited Aleppo in 1743 (Pococke: 1743
1745), and Alexander Drummond, who first visited Aleppo in 1745
(1754: 184) and later became its Consul between 1754 and 1756 and
to whom Alexander Russell dedicated the first edition of Aleppo. The
last chapter of the 1779 version of Henry Maudrell’s book is a
summary of the detail presented in Volume II of the Natural History
of Aleppo.
Alexander Russell, M.D., F.R.S. was born about 1715 in Edinburgh
the third son, by his second wife, of John Russell of Braidshaw,
Midlothian, a reputable lawyer in Edinburgh. Alexander was educated
at the High School, Edinburgh and at the University of Edinburgh
(17321734), at a time when the city was flourishing as a centre of the
arts and philosophical thought. In 1734 Russell was one of the first
members of the Medical Society of Edinburgh University. He went to
London in 1740 and arrived in Aleppo the same year to be physician
to the English Factory with the Levant Company from which he
resigned in 1753. We can speculate that he obtained this post through
the good offices of another brother, William Russell, F.R.S., Secretary
to the Levant Company.
Alexander learnt to speak Arabic fluently, an important attribute for
any fieldworker in the region. His use of Arabic, in preference to
Turkish, in footnotes shows that he was familiar with the language.
Alexander acquired influence with the Governor (or Pasha) of
and people of all ethnic groups and classes through his
medical practice. The Pasha of Aleppo granted Patrick the rare
privilege of wearing a turban, an honour rarely given to Europeans.
There was a high rate of sickness including dysentery, malaria, other
endemic diseases, and major outbreaks of plague every few years
when all Europeans stayed indoors (Davis 1967: 75). Although he
witnessed outbreaks of the plague between 1742 and 1744 it was a
period of relative prosperity in the city. In the Natural Scientific
tradition, he collected botanical specimens and also exported many
valuable Arabic manuscripts from Aleppo to Britain. After Alexander
left Aleppo he returned to England, in February 1755, via lazarettos in
Naples and Leghorn, in order to continue his research on the plague.
He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in May 1756; in 1760 he
obtained his L.R.C.P. and a M.D. from Glasgow and was appointed
physician to St Thomas Hospital, London, in the same year. He died
28 November 1768 in his house in Walbrook of putrid fever, attended
by John Fothergill and Pitcairn.
Alexander’s half-brother, Patrick Russell, M.D., F.R.S., was born in
Edinburgh on 6 February 1726/7 and was also a physician with the
Levant Company in Aleppo from 1750. In Aleppo he assisted his
brother Alexander in the practice and took over his brother’s post
there in 1753, a position that he held for eighteen years, until 1771. He
experienced the food shortages of 1751, inflated food prices and bread
riots. He witnessed the plague between 1760 and 1762, which reduced
the population of Aleppo to around 150,000. By the 1760s the English
trade was fading in Aleppo. Whilst in Aleppo he wrote “An Account
of the Late Earthquakes in Syria” (1760: 529–34). In December 1768
Alexander and Patrick published an account of inoculation in Arabia
(1768: 14), when Alexander was informed that inoculation against
smallpox was practised by Bedouin. Patrick subsequently settled in
London in 1772 where he was elected Fellow of the Royal Society in
1777. In 1781 he went to India to join his younger brother, Claud, in
Vizagapatam. There he served the East India Company as a botanist
and physician in the Carnatic from 1785 to 1789, publishing
extensively on snakes, insects and fishes. He died in 1805, aged
seventy-eight, after a brief illness. He never married.
After Alexander’s death in 1768, the second edition of his The Natural
History of Aleppo and parts adjacent...., was revised, enlarged, and
illustrated with notes, and edited by Alexander’s half-brother, Dr
Patrick Russell (17261805). This second edition was published in
1794. In addition to references to plagues (1794 (II): 336 ff), there is a
detailed description of local diseases and epidemics recorded between
1742 and 1753 (1794 (I): 298333, 344ff. Gelpi 1987: 1314),
discussion of the “Aleppo boil (1794 (II): 79), and notes on infant
mortality (1756 (II): 79, 83). Its botanical chapter, substantially
revised by Patrick in the later edition of 1794, is even written with
post-Linnaean terminology provided by the great aristocrats of the
Enlightenment, Sir Joseph Banks (17431820) and the Swedish
botanist, Daniel C. Solander (d.1782), disciples of Carolus Linnaeus
(17071778), after their voyage on the Endeavour with Captain James
Cook between August 1768 and July 1771. In 1882, selections from
The Natural History of Aleppo were translated into Arabic by Wadi’
‘Abd Allah Qasan as al-Ifranj fi Halab [Foreigners in Aleppo].
In Aleppo, Patrick became an expert on the bubonic plague after
making epidemiological observations in the area and, based on his
Treatise on the Plague (1791), included a section on the subject in his
edition of The Natural History of Aleppo of 1794. A Treatise of the
Plague provides case studies of communicable diseases, especially the
bubonic plague in eighteenth-century Aleppo, its hospitals, and
quarantine procedures (1791: 170). He gave a detailed breakdown of
mortality estimates (7,767 in 1761 and 11,883 in 1762). In May 1761
he recorded 171 deaths with the figure rising to 670 by the beginning
of June when he used to treat three to four hundred people in an
afternoon (Jayakody 2001: 3940). He describes (1791: 9) how 1756
was a bad winter with heavy snow and great loss of life, with resulting
crop failure and subsequent danger of famine. By 1757 bread was
scarce and the governor sold his supplies at excessive prices. In the
winter of 17571758 hunger was widespread: many were
unemployed. As a result, epidemic diseases effected the malnourished
and as many as 40,000 died of starvation, cold and disease. There
were further food shortages in 1761 and 17641768 (Marcus 1989:
356). One can speculate on the association of spread of the plague
with the movement of large caravans from the East.
Whilst many travellers’ accounts (some listed below) were based on
short visits and inadequate contact with a community, the Russells’
description of Aleppo is based on lengthy residence and intimacy with
the local people. Given their established position as medical
practitioners, the Russell brothers were free to enter homes of all local
communities. The book may well reveal local philosophical thought
and intellectual information that need to be assessed in the light of
contemporary Arabic and Ottoman texts, as well as assessed in the
light of extant contemporary knowledge of the city in other Western
3. What of Aleppo?
We can begin to investigate the complex involvement of the writers
with the city of Aleppo as described in this text. In order to pursue this
theme, this essay selects Russell’s descriptions of places for leisure
pursuits: courtyards, bathhouses, coffee-houses and gardens. Many
ways of interpreting the narrative can be explored to provide multi-
layered meanings, including the social interaction of different classes
and ethnic groups, gender relations, economic livelihoods and political
relations, local indigenous scientific knowledge and medical practice,
beliefs and customs, and the Aleppine sense of identity.
Aleppo was, until the end of the eighteenth century, the Eastern
metropolis in the Levant, a gateway to the main corridor between the
Orient and the Occident. “The mosques, the minarets, and numerous
cupolas form a splendid spectacle, and the flat roofs of the houses
which are situated on the hills, rising one behind another, present a
succession of hanging terraces, interspersed with cypress and poplar
trees” (1757: 1). It is, therefore, appropriate to understand the vitality
of East-West contacts stimulated by its position as entrepôt. From this
perspective, too, it is important to explore contacts between the people
of the Levant and European travellers as exemplified in the Aleppo
text, to try to understand more of the history of East-West contact in a
major Ottoman city such as Aleppo.
According to Alexander Russell’s figures, Aleppo was the third
largest metropolis in the region in the eighteenth century after
Constantinople and Cairo: “The inhabitants of the city and suburbs of
Aleppo are computed at about 235,000, of whom 200,000 are Turks,
30,000 are Christians, and the remaining 5000 Jews” (1757: 71)
but cosmopolitan Aleppo was more impressive, as ‘Ali Bey recounted
in the early nineteenth century: “[Aleppo] being continually
frequented by a crowd of Europeans and strangers from every nation
on account of its commerce, it is almost as well known as any
European city.”
Aleppo was an important trading centre between Asia and Europe,
linked by caravan across the eighty miles of desert and mountains to
the Mediterranean ports of Lattakia, Antioch (Antakya) and
Scanderoon (Iskenderun), where merchants waited for infrequent
ships. The city also commanded the shortest land route across deserts
via the Euphrates to Persia and India, and along the caravan routes to
Mosul, Baghdad and Basra in Iraq. Other regions in Aleppo’s
hinterland included southern Anatolia, Smyrna (Izmir), and the routes
south to Damascus. It was an emporium through which passed traders
and travellers (several of whom record friendship with the Russells),
government officials, military personnel, pilgrims to Mecca and
Jerusalem, and officials from the East India Company on the “Great
Desert Route” overland to India, especially around 1750. Alfred C.
Wood described Aleppo as “the terminus of the great caravan routes
from Persia and Mesopotamia” carrying Persian silk and Indian
spices, first on the overland route until goods were transported by the
East India Company via the Cape of Good Hope and then brought to
London and sold on to the Aleppo market (Wood 1935). Again,
anthropological studies on economic issues such as exchange and
trade may be usefully considered as part of a larger study of the text.
Bedouin from the Arabian and Syria Deserts worked as camel
drivers on the great caravans, and herders of sheep and goats from
local villages in the Pashalik visited the city. The most important
exchange was Persian and Syrian silk and cotton, fruit, dyes, goat’s
hair and coffee, for English woollen cloth and Indian spices. Ottoman
silk fabrics impressed everyone as symbols of power, elegance and
luxury, and trade in textiles served to transmit artistic ideas between
East and West.
Before the nineteenth century, Aleppo had a reputation for being
one of the fairest and cleanest of cities. “The mosques, the minarets,
and numerous cupolas form a splendid spectacle, and the flat roofs of
the houses which are situated on the hills, rising one behind another,
present a succession of hanging terraces, interspersed with cypress and
poplar trees.” This description is echoed in the account of the city, its
people, politics and antiquities published in 1787 in Voyage en Égypte
et en Syrie by the French savant, comte Contantin Francois
Chassboeuf. Comte Constantin François de Volney (17571820), who
visited the city in 1783, noted: “The city is in itself one of the most
agreeable in Syria, and perhaps he cleanest and best built of any in
Turkey. On whatever side it is approached, its numerous minarets and
domes present an agreeable prospect to the eye, fatigued with the
continued sameness of the brown and parched plains” (Volney 1787:
The “Islamic” City?
As part of this discussion, I have suggested that, in analysing a so-
called social history, ideas developed for application in present-day
societies may be applied to these texts to provide additional
perspectives in our analysis of the text. We can take, for example,
Janet Abu-Lughod’s relatively straightforward ideas about the
“Islamic City” (1987: 155–7) and use them to reflect on the Russells’
descriptions of Aleppo. Abu-Lughod identified three Islamic elements
that led to the rise of Islamic cities. First, the distinction between
members of the umma (Muslims/citizens) and outsiders leading to
juridical and spatial distinction by neighbourhoods; secondly, the
segregation of sexes by gender leading to spatial organisation and
virtual complete division of labour: and, thirdly, a decentralised
system of land use and government regulation over space. The
elements she identified as “non-Islamic” included climate, terrain,
technologies of construction, circulation, production, political
variables (rulers versus ruled), inter-communal strife, and levels of
internal and external security.
Aspects of these core features of the traditional “Islamic City”,
identified by Abu-Lughod, are all apparent in the Russells’ description
of Aleppo, but whether these are specifically “Islamic” or not is
debatable (Marçais 1928: 8610; von Grunebaum (1955); Lapidus
(1959); Hourani and Stern 1970). In Russell’s description these
included the foundation of the city following military conquest, with
its focus being a military garrison (amsar) in the citadel (al-qal‘ah).
Alexander Russell also mentioned law courts and other administrative
institutions; a large Friday mosque (masjid al-jami‘) in this important
settlement in the Pashalik; religiously endowed schools (madrasah)
near mosques, and crafts associated with educated strata of society. He
also detailed specific commercial districts around and within the city.
Russell describes the industry for he visited textile workshops: “A vast
number of hands are employed in the silk and cotton manufactures.
Besides large factories, where a great many looms are kept under the
same roof, a multitude of inferior artisans have one or two looms in
their own houses” (1794 (I): 161).
Other core elements of the “Islamic” city as described by Abu-
Lughod and featured in Aleppo, included a structured road pattern,
numerous craft shops with concentrations of craft types together, light
industry in the markets and in separate industrial quarters,
caravanserais/khans, or inns located near main routes, customs offices
(gumruk), banking facilities, and financial offices. Interestingly, there
is even an illuminated push-button scale model of Aleppo in the newly
designed Ethnographic Museum in Leiden, which is used to illustrate
the concept of the Islamic city to children, an exhibit that clearly
reflects descriptions of the town in Aleppo. Nevertheless, these ideas
on the "Islamic City” have been much discredited in recent years,
notably by Dale Eickelman (1974: 27494) and, again, these ideas
could be judged in the light of an analysis of Aleppo.
Aleppo, founded in the fourteenth century BC, was incorporated
into Ottoman Empire in 1516/7 as the chief town of an Ottoman
vilayat, dominated by its citadel. The Russells experienced Aleppo
under the reigns of Sultan Mahmud I (17301754), Osman III (1754
1757) and Mustafa III (17571774). Whilst the Ottoman Empire was
still a great military power until the 1760s, its suzerainty was lightly
felt in the surrounding Syrian Desert. It might be more appropriate for
any study of the text to address Ibn Khaldun’s ideas on the rise and
fall of empires, favoured by anthropologists such as Richard Tapper
(1983), rather than continue to overwork the model of an “Islamic”
Social Stratification
There have been many recent studies of social stratification in the
region such as that by Van Nieuwenhuijze (1965).
Again, applying
similar Marxist anthropological perspectives to any discourse on the
text may well help us to understand the class structure of Russell’s
Aleppo in the eighteenth century. Russell identifies Turkish-speaking
groups as the Osmanli i.e. those in the service of the Porte, and the
“Turks”, dominated by their “Bashaw and retinue; The Effendees
included the ulama, spiritual leaders, legal experts and scholars, who
spoke Arabic and some Turkish, and other men of social distinction,
the Aghas, that is, those who rent land, Muslim merchants who have
some influence on the city council (divan) and come from well-
established families. He had contact with çelebi (Turkish), meaning
“gentleman”, a group that included doctors, builders, money lenders,
goldsmiths, coppersmiths, carpenters, and cloth merchants as well as
those trading in pharmaceuticals, spices, coffee and paper. Through
the Levant Company he met the city’s élite, the export-import
merchants (tujjar). Christian and Jewish counterparts addressed
respectfully as khawajas. He also mixed with “true Arabs” or
“Bidoweens”, by which he meant Bedouin living in tents, as well as
those who lived in lower-class areas of the town working as labourers
and servants, whom he called “Moors”. Apart from distinguishing the
various Christian and Jewish groups, he noted both Muslim Sunnis
(Sonnites) and Shi‘i (Shites). He found the lowest social group
included prostitutes, entertainers and servants (Marcus 1989: 51).
There was a strong if isolated community of European merchants
who were resident in the khans of Aleppo with well-structured
communities from Holland, Greece, France and Italy. Officials at the
English Factory included a consul, vice-consul, chaplain, doctor and
treasurer, with as many as forty factors, storemen, porters and
dragomans (often Italian, Greek or local Christians). Most of those
working with the Levant Company stayed in Aleppo for seven to ten
years but they had a conservative social circle, few learnt Arabic or
Turkish, and few associated outside their own community.
The Russells’ description is made up of many descriptive fragments
though thoroughly based on personal experiences. Alexander Russell,
for example, describes local foods in detail with a list of one hundred
and forty one local dishes (1756 (I): 10015) and was entertained
lavishly when the harvest was rich and food prices low: there was
always a worry in case the harvest failed in the agricultural lands of
northern Syria and southern Anatolia. Alexander recounts: “The
[Syrian] Merchants commonly dine in their apartments in the Khanes;
some have victuals sent from their own kitchen, but many content
themselves with bread, cheese, and fruit, or perhaps a Kabab from the
bazar. Their chief repast is supper, at their own houses” (1756 (I):
1434). Hot, unsweetened coffee and tobacco were consumed, from
adolescence by both men and women, throughout the day and even at
night. “If they happen to awake in the night, they sit up, fill their pipe,
have a dish of coffee made, and sometimes, especially in the long
winter nights, eat some of their sweet pastry, and thus sit till they drop
asleep again” (1757: 80–81).
In contrast to many of the Levant Company merchants, Russell
appears to have been regularly entertained in “Turkish”, Christian,
Jewish and other houses. He reported that the Muslim population were
tolerant of Christians and Jews but speaks of “insolent petulancy”
rather than mutual respect between communities. He gives us detail
about dialect, attitudes, customs and traditions, dress and commerce,
providing a valuable insight into the way of life in Aleppo. Indeed, it
is his detailed descriptions of the various communities in Aleppo that
are so valuable. He records the obsessive attention given by Aleppines
to the complexities of their elaborate and stylish dress codes (fur, silk,
gold thread), and notes their preoccupation with elaborate rules of
etiquette and ceremony dictating proper behaviour in different
situations (1756 (I): 7394, 11519, 1727). He found a sombre,
hardworking local community whose activities centred on the family,
the mosques, the khans, the bagnios (described in 1757: chapter I), the
coffee-houses (1757: chapter II) and visits to the surrounding gardens
(1757: chapter III).
Bagnios: purity, gender and leisure
Other elements of the city included public water facilities such as
fountains and the baths (bagnios/hammam). Abraham Marcus, using
Court records, found that thirty-two bath-houses were within the city
walls, especially near the central bazaar, seven in the busy centre of
Banqusa, seven in the northern district and the other three in the west
of the city (Marcus 1989: 287).
Furthermore, Russell’s descriptions of the public baths reflect so
many ethnographic themes studied by anthropologists: purity and
pollution, gender relations, the behaviour of different religious groups,
seclusion of women, daily routine in urban spaces. Russell recounts
that “in the city are a number of public bagnios, which are frequented
by people of all sects and conditions, except those of high rank, who
generally have them in their own houses” (1757: 67). In 1752 several
bathhouses were exclusively reserved for Christian women in the
walled city and in Christian quarters in the north. The Christian
clergy, at least, periodically warned against excesses of the bathhouse
(1757 (I): 1367, 188, 254).
Russell describes the different procedures of the bagnio, with its
benches, fountains and separate rooms, depilatories (dewa), massage
(1757: 68-69), servants and relaxation. After a session in the
bathhouse a man “goes out to the great room, where he generally
smokes a pipe, drinks coffee, and perhaps eats some fruit before he
dresses.” (1757: 69). Aleppines believed in the virtues of cleanliness
but Russell found that some only visited the bathhouse once or twice a
fortnight, so that children were especially liable to skin diseases. He
contends that “frequent use of the bagnio, may be one principal reason
why their labours are much easier than those of the women in
England.” (1757: 76) and also describes special visits to the bathhouse
by women after childbirth. Russell describes the bathhouses in detail.
“A few of the bagnios are solely for the use of men, and others are
appropriated to the use of women: but the generality of them admit
both sexes, though at different times; the men in the morning, and the
women in the afternoon” (1757: 67–68). Hammam Yalbougha al-
Nasri (established 1491 and frequently rebuilt), for example, is still
open to women from noon to sunset and to men in the evening.
Class issues are reflected in the use of the bath-houses, for “The
Turks at Aleppo being much addicted to jealousy, they confine their
women as much as possible, and seldom allow them to visit even their
own sex. The husband is however obliged to suffer them to go often to
the bagnio” (1757: 87). Women brought their children along, as well
as food, drink and entertainers, “the bagnio being the principal place
where they have an opportunity to shewing their fine cloaths, of
seeing company, and enjoying a free conversation even with their own
sex, it is not to be wondered that they are very fond of it (1757: 70).
The women also “refresh themselves at intervals, by going out into the
other rooms, where they smoke, converse, and drink coffee, with some
of the various parties that are commonly there.” (1757: 69–70). Rich
women would rent the bathhouses for private parties and in Ramadan
the baths and coffee-houses were kept open all night when the crowds
were entertained with puppet shows, jugglers and tumblers (1757: 91).
Other differences of gender, social class and the daily cycle are
described in Aleppo. The town was surrounded by privately-owned
gardens and orchards that were popular places to relax and picnic
under the shade of the trees. Some of these gardens were just outside
the walls in the old moat (khandaq) and provided most of the seasonal
fruit and vegetables for the town. Aleppines would bring picnics,
musicians and buffoons to entertain them. Women particularly
enjoyed these outings, yet “The ladies, even of the greatest distinction,
are obliged to walk on foot, both in the city, and when they go to a
garden at a moderate distance” (1757: 80). In the 1750s “Turkish”
women were restricted to visiting the gardens on Mondays, Thursdays
and saints’ days (1757: 87); in contrast, only a few of the Christian
wives were allowed to go to the gardens two or three times a year to
go to the gardens and others “though they are not a mile from their
houses, never see one in their lives” (1757: 89).
Coffee-houses, storytellers, and puppeteers
The coffee-house was the domain of men, equivalent in function of
sessions at the bathhouse for women (Hattox 1985: 160). As in the
London coffee-houses, men relaxed, exchanged gossip and smoked a
water pipe or two before evening prayer. “The coffee-houses ... attract
the notice of a stranger .... They are found in all quarters of the town,
and some of them are spacious and handsome. They are gaudily
painted, and furnished with matted platform and benches; those of the
better sort have a fountain in the middle, with a gallery for musicians”
(1756 (I): 23). After supper “many of the ordinary people go to the
coffee house, where they pass the time till evening prayer, and then
retire. People of rank sometimes visit after supper, but seldom are
seen abroad later than ten o’clock.” (1756 (I): 143–4). In contradiction
to his description of the coffee-houses as “spacious and handsome”,
he noted that “The coffee-houses of Aleppo are frequented by none
but the vulgar” (1756 (I): 23, 146–7; 1757: 81). Upper-class men
tended to enjoy leisure pursuits at home: music, reading, storytellers,
buffoons and dancers.
Russell recounts how the frequenters of coffee-houses “are there
entertained by a concert of music, a story-teller, and obscene kind of
puppet-show, and sometimes by jugglers and tumblers”. These
entertainments were based on oral tradition, in contrast to the world of
the mosque, which is based on Qur’anic texts and their interpretation.
The storyteller, often recounting tales from the “Arabian Nights”, and
a large repertoire of exotic stories full of genies, magic, supernatural
birds, erotic veiled dancing girls, entertained the crowd. These tales
were also retold by women in the privacy of their bedrooms, to send
their menfolk to sleep. “Many of the people of fashion are lulled to
rest by soft music, or Arabian tales, which their women are taught to
repeat” (1757: 81). Russell only found two volumes of this scarce
book in Aleppo, and only with two hundred and eighty “Nights” so,
with difficulty, had a copy made for himself.
Although Russell described the puppet shows, musicians, jugglers
and tumblers in coffee-houses as “their [Aleppines] only public
entertainments” (1757: 81), storytellers, puppeteers and musicians
also performed in marketplaces, festivals, weddings, and in private
homes. The puppet shows were pageants rather than dramas, full of
jokes, silly plots, obscenities,
and proverbial wisdom. These were in
the form of shadow plays (khayal al-zill or karagöz), common
throughout the Ottoman Empire and Persia, with the central character
of Karagöz; other characters no doubt reflected stereotypes of local
ethnic groups as they do today at Metin And (1979) describes: the
invincible woodcutter-“Turk”, “Kurd” (traditionally vacant but
haughty), “Armenian” (humourless), “Arab” (beggar or coffee
grinder), “Jew” (moneylender or pedlar who knew only broken
Turkish), “Persian” (traders in carpets or a money lender who recites
poetry and rides a horse) and the “Frank” (depicted as a physician or
merchant, speaking bad Turkish). They were interspersed with satire,
risqué-revue, relating to local government officials and their social
policies, Aleppine story-telling tradition relied on mimicry and
dialectic eccentricities, with stock phrases, puns, slapstick,
monologues, double ententre and everything done to music, by
disreputable musicians. Russell recounts how storytellers sometimes
broke off in the middle of stories leaving listeners to speculate on the
probable outcome like any good soap-opera until the next day (1756
(I): 14850). His descriptions reflect that of Thévenot (1665: 6667):
I think, that among their Diversions I may reckon Puppet-plays; for
though the Turks suffer no images among them, yet they have puppets
.... Now they are commonly Jews who give shows, and I never saw
any but them play. They play not as in France and other Countries of
Europe, but place themselves in a corner of a room, with a cloth hung
before them; and in the upper part of that piece of hangings there is a
hole or square window, about two foot every way, with a piece of thin
white stuffe over it; behind this they light several candles, and having
with the show of their hands represented many animals upon this
cloth. They make use of little flat figures, which they move so
dextrously behind the cloth, that in my opinion it makes a prettier
show, than our ways does; and in the mean time they sing several
pretty songs in the Turkish and Persian languages, but on most nasty
subjects, being full of obscenities; and nevertheless the Turks take
great delight in seeing of them.
4. Influences?
As part of a larger study of the Aleppo text, it will be important to
discover how much of the account is directly influenced by the
writings of other travellers. Sibt Ibn al-‘Ajami wrote his Kunuz ad-
dhahab fi tarikh Halab, a description of the topography, buildings,
events and ways of life of Aleppo in 1415 (Sauvaget 1950). Antonio
Tenreiro was one of the first Portuguese to travel from Aleppo to
Basra, in 1523 (and back in 1528). From the late sixteenth to the end
of the eighteenth century, the occasional European traveller visited
Aleppo, leaving us with as many as twenty-three published accounts
of the city (Marcus 1989: 379). Venetian and Genoese merchants
traded there long before the seventeenth century: while Venice
continued to trade with the Orient, Venice remained the centre of
European civilisation. In 1563 the Venetian writer Caesar Frederick
visited Aleppo. Other travellers to the area included the Scot, William
Lithgow, who having ostensibly walked from Scotland, called the
region “an earthly paradise” in 1610 though he was warned by the
Venetian Consul in Aleppo of wild Arabs in the desert. The poet and
gentleman, George Sandys (15781644) made a visit to the city in
1611; Henry Blount (16021682) toured the Levant and published
Voyage into the Levant in 1636 with careful notes about commerce
and natural history. He spoke of the “incredible civilite” of the
“Turks”, despite his accounts of “Turkish” methods of torture. Other
travellers who described Aleppo include Jean de Thévenot (1687 (II):
31–32); and Laurent d’Arvieux in Syria in 1664 (1735: 411–28) who
was French consul at Aleppo 1679 to 1686 and who is cited in Aleppo
Another Scot, John Campbell, arrived in Aleppo in August 1669 “in
a ragged and weather beaten condition”. His travels were written up
by Richard Bell, who was a consul in Aleppo. William Beawes
travelled to Basra leaving Aleppo in August 1745 is quoted freely by
Rennell. F. Hasselquist described Aleppo as “the prettiest town in the
Turkish Empire” when he visited the city in 1751 (Hasselquist 1766:
398). Other travellers to Aleppo who might have known the Russells
included Hunter in 1767, Coote in 1771 (Coote 1860: 198211),
Parsons in 1774, the meteorologist Colonel James Capper (1743
1825), of the East Indian Company, probably en route to India via
Syria in 17781779, and Samuel Eyers in 1783.
There is no space in this essay to analyse the influence of Aleppo on
other eighteenth-century travel literature on the Pashalik though some
examples can be cited. Bartholomew Plaisted estimated the caravan he
travelled with from Basra to Aleppo included 2000 camels, later
joined by the Baghdad caravan, totalling 5000 camels (about 400
laden, the rest for trade in Aleppo) and 1,000 men (Carruthers 1929:
xxxiii). He reached Aleppo on 23 July 1750 and left Scanderoon
(Iskenderun) on 11 August 1750 (Plaisted 1757: 59128). His short
description is a summary extracted from the 1757 version of
Alexander Russell with whom he “had the pleasure of being
acquainted” (Carruthers 1929: 58). It is even entitled “A description of
Aleppo, and the adjacent country” (1757: 107–13). He appears to tire
of his task of summarising Russell’s Chapter III (1757) or Volume II
of the 1756 edition. “It would take up too much room to describe the
vast variety of fine flowers, herbs and plants to be met in these parts,
and a catalogue of their names only would be very tedious, for which
reason we shall omit them” (Carruthers 1929: 113). Nevertheless, the
Russell’s text contains a wealth of indigenous knowledge of medical
and other plants and animals alongside their accounts of medical
Carsten Niebuhr used Carmichael’s work in his account of Aleppo
in 17651766 (17741780). but Patrick Russell used Niebuhr’s map in
Aleppo (1794). Major James Rennell (1831) was indebted to Dr
Patrick Russell for The Journal of Mr. Carmichael’s route across the
Great Desert between Aleppo and Basrah, in 1751. In a paper
published in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of
London, read to the Royal Society on 17 March 1791, Rennell
acknowledges “the manuscript copy of his [Carmichael’s] journal was
obligingly communicated by my friend Dr Patrick Russell.” Text-
building of this type was typical of pre-twentieth-century texts
particularly Islamic ones! a practice which was, of course, central
to Edward Said criticisms in Orientalism.
We are relatively clear about travel writing and the associated
Orientalist developments after 1801, in contrast to classical
philosophies or medieval pilgrimage traditions, but Aleppo was
written in a period bridging the two eras. Did the Russells, for
example, make a distinction between “the Orient” and “the Occident”?
How consistent were their perceptions of the Orient in the social space
of Aleppo? Whatever else, the Russells’ work seems to be thoroughly
and perceptively researched at a time when Europeans had little
interest in, and less understanding of, the Muslim faith and cities, like
Aleppo, where it was practised.
Its additional importance lies in the fact that the text predates
nineteenth-century empire building. The discipline of history itself
might be studied as an artificial academic construct that has developed
in line with the evolution of Western scholarship that has blossomed
since the rise of imperialism associated with colonialism in the
nineteenth century. A study of the text and its rationale, therefore,
could well shed light on the later emergence of Orientalist traditions
so ingrained in nineteenth-century colonialism and imperialism. So
much has been written about the rise of Romantic Orientalism in the
nineteenth century that it seems important to explore perceptions of
the city by European travellers just before this time, to try to
understand more of the history of East-West contact in the Levant.
In addition, a thorough analysis of the text may well shed light on
the extent to which the text coloured subsequent travellers’
descriptions of Aleppo written in the “Orientalist tradition”. For
example, did the book influence Burckhardt’s accounts of Aleppine
life between 1809 and 1811: the suqs, the khans and caravans, the
hammam, weddings, horses, food and women? Russell mentions that
“Wine and spirits are only drunk by the licentious and irreligious
Turks” (1757: 84). Behaviour became so bad that in 1764 the
governor ordered the closure of the coffee-houses after sunset due to
problems with alcohol and prostitution. This order was repeated in
1767, all to little effect. In the 1810s Burckhardt found “young
Janissaries heated with brandy and amorous passion” fighting between
themselves outside a prostitute’s door.
We know, at least, that the Aleppo text was a model for the mid-
nineteenth century ethnographer and lexicographer, Edward W. Lane,
as Lane acknowledges in his preface to Manners and Customs of the
Modern Egyptians (1836). For example, in Aleppo the coffee-house
was also used for indoor games: “Within doors their entertainments
are playing at chess, draughts, mankala, tabuduk, and the play of the
ring” (1757: 81), many of which are described in detail in a Cairene
context by Edward W. Lane’s Manners and Customs in Modern Egypt
(1836). Russell’s tabuduk is Lane’s tab wa-dukk. Lane certainly
continued the Russell tradition of exquisite recording and careful
observation in Manners and Customs. Edward W. Said associated
Edward W. Lane with the rise of Romantic Orientalism, in the light of
which Said talks of “Dr Russell’s ‘account of the people of Aleppo’ (a
forgotten work)” (1978: 159–60). Irwin (2001) concludes his review
article by stating: “had Said actually bothered to look at The Natural
History of Aleppo, he would have discovered that it provided the
perfect model for Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians.
The second chapter, which is extremely long, covers matters such as
population, language, dress, consumption of coffee and tobacco,
eating habits, religious ceremonies, family life, entertainments and
funerary rites all the sorts of things that Lane’s book later covered.
There was no reason why Lane, a remarkably pious and earnest
character, should have sought to conceal the chief source of his
inspiration, and it is sad to find Said’s disparaging Russell’s
achievement and questioning Lane’s integrity in order to prop up what
is essentially a false genealogy of Orientalism” (Irwin 2001: 6).
5. Interpretation?
The Russells followed the Natural Scientific philosophy behind the
Enlightenment whereby a detached observer was considered to be
exempt and could, according to this tradition, “objectively” determine
the true causes of events. Descriptions are precisely recorded and
detailed. However, did they come to understand the Aleppines through
a fiction of participation as medical practitioners narrating past
experiences or, rather, by remembering the intimacy of associated
sensory experiences? Nevertheless, without the Russell’s thorough
immersion in the culture of Aleppo, the beliefs, social expectations
and cultural values of the Aleppines would have remained elusive.
The Russells are unsentimental empirical investigators who tried to
view their subject matter systematically and scientifically rather than
emotionally. But we have to remember that just as ethnographic
fieldwork notes today are “written fiction”, any coherent narrative
may well be based on abstractions from reality.
A thorough interpretation of Aleppo should, therefore, be multi-
layered, offering the historian many different possibilities for
interpretation. As Claude Lévi-Strauss wrote: “Much has been heard
lately … on the question of whether anthropology …properly belongs
to the sciences or to the humanities … To the contrary, anthropology
seems to us to be distinctive in that it cannot be reduced to either
dimension. It is clear that history, on one side, and natural science, on
the other, concern themselves with the same reality, but at different
levels” (1978: 23). Though the narrative is apparently straightforward,
based on careful, sensitive observation and well-established contacts,
is there a real meaning to the narrative to be found beyond the
Russell’s immediate account of what took place in eighteenth-century
Aleppo? In Levi-Straussian tradition we can search for “underlying
structures” through a system of relations — or look for recurring
motifs, symbols and binary oppositions. As Greg Dening stated: “The
past, which we are mythically confident is knowable as such, is only
known through symbols whose meaning is changed in the reading of
them and in the preserving of them. Histories are the product of that
dialectic between discovery and invention” (1991: 355).
From this
Structuralist perspective, history is mediated through symbolic
systems with their own logic and deep cultural order that is influenced
and structured by the past.
For Sahlins, history is seen as the organisation of the past in terms
of the present. He sees all knowledge as constructed in the present
where there is no “real” past to be decoded. He also argued that there
are different ways of understanding the past, just as we analyse the
present in different ways. To study History as an Anthropologist
requires “the articulation of an objective history” such as the text on
Aleppo with “a subjective history” partly in the actual events, dates,
people and descriptions of the people themselves, and, more
significantly, in the light of comparative archival material that
influenced the writers. Until the accounts of other travellers and local
accounts of life in Aleppo in the eighteenth century have been used to
provide a comparative perspective we have, like so many more recent
unique ethnographies of more isolated communities, scope for only
limited interpretation. By exploring an ethnographic account,
traditionally placed within the Natural Scientific tradition of the
eighteenth century, we can recognise that both history and
anthropology have particular ways of writing or speaking and that
through a combination of approaches, hidden voices may be
discovered and the role of meaning in history can be clarified.
A postmodernist deconstruction of the text may not simply establish
dialogue (as it does in the Chicago School) between the two
disciplines of history and anthropology, but it might go further to
enable us to reflect on the application of anthropological techniques
and frames of thought to the analytical medium of “ethnographic
discourse”. Just as we study “ethnographies” of recent communities,
so can one, at least to an extent, use anthropological concepts to study
older texts? One can attempt to decode the realities of the cultures
Russell describes beneath the surface of this apparently
straightforward narrative. The dual responsibility for such a discourse
is enormous for it involves a duty to the original writers, as well as
those reading any subsequent “translation” of the text and in the
tradition of New Historicism to place the text in its historical context
in relation to contemporaneous issues and anxieties in the societies in
which the authors participated. The real challenge is how to
understand the process of transmission of meaning through cultural
signs and symbols in the narrative so that we can present a pre-
colonial Arab/Ottoman world through a text written by two
enlightened medical practitioners from Edinburgh and to a post-
colonial audience.
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Note: This is the final draft of 2002. No myopic mirage: Alexander
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i on 2 August 2002.
Hereinafter, Aleppo.
iii on 14 September 2002.
According to Russell (1797: 3134), the Governor of Aleppo was usually
a Vizir Pasha who held office only for a few years, the Pashalik extending
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... Americans and Europeans often talked about these relationships with themselves in the position of employers of ''servants.'' However , regular local use of the term howadji (Christian gentleman, merchant, or trader) toward Frank clients suggests that workers perceived Western tourists to be their customers, not necessarily their superiors (North American Review 1856; Prime 1857:153; Starkey 2002:267). ...
This paper proposes a “facilitated access” model to describe how local people make and have made use of tourism. Although Western travel accounts of the Arab Middle East have been studied by various disciplines, the Ottoman Empire has not been treated from a tourism studies approach. Travel narratives from 1835 to 1870 are used to reconstruct how, and tentatively why, Ottoman subjects adapted existing tourism services and expertise to the new Western tourists of the era. It is argued that Western tourism in the empire flourished in the foundational period before Cook Company tours began in 1869 because some Ottoman subjects could thus increase their own autonomy.RésuméUn modèle d’accès facilité et le tourisme dans l’Empire ottoman. Cet article propose un modèle d’accès facilité pour décrire comment les habitants utilisent et ont utilisé le tourisme. Bien que les comptes rendus de voyages des Occidentaux au Moyen-Orient arabe aient été étudiés par divers disciplines, l’Empire ottoman n’a pas été traité avec une approche des études de tourisme. Des narrations de voyage entre 1835 et 1870 sont utilisées pour reconstituer comment et, de façon tentative, pourquoi les sujets ottomans ont adapté les services et l’expertise existants aux nouveaux touristes occidentaux de l’époque. On soutien que le tourisme occidental dans l’Empire a prospéré dans la période de début, avant le premier voyage organisé par l’agence Cook en 1869, parce que quelques sujets ottomans pouvaient ainsi augmenter leur propre autonomie.
Cambridge Core - European History after 1450 - The Yellow Flag - by Alex Chase-Levenson
Bio-bibliography arguably forms the core of all research into the textual history of the Arabian Nights and its related materials.11In the context of this article, ‘Arabian Nights’ and ‘Nights’ is used loosely to refer, in general terms, to all tales that were considered to belong to the genre of the corpus or genre of the Thousand and one Nights by 18th-century English authors. References to a particular edition or version will include the name of the author, editor or translator. In the first part of this article, I would like to offer a small contribution to that line of research, through a detailed study of a group of Arabic manuscripts preserved at Cambridge University Library, of their provenance, and of the narratives contained therein. In the second part, I will use the Cambridge texts and their 18th-century translation as the basis for a discussion of critical responses to the Nights.
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Theory, Ethnography, Historiography * Ethnography and the Historical Imagination * Of Totemism and Ethnicity * Bodily Reform as Historical Practice Dialectical Systems, Imaginative Sociologies * The Long and the Short of It * Goodly Beasts, Beastly Goods * The Madman and the Migrant Colonialism And Modernity * Images of Empire, Contests of ConscienceMedicine, Colonialism, and the Black BodyThe Colonization of ConsciousnessHomemade Hegemony
The French author and traveller Constantin-François de Chasseboeuf (1757–1820) adopted the pen name Volney, which combined the name of Voltaire and Ferney, where the great philosopher lived. A friend of Thomas Jefferson and other Enlightenment figures, Volney used an inheritance to further his education by travelling to Ottoman Egypt and the historical region of Syria, visiting areas of present-day Lebanon and Israel. He chose these lands as he believed he would gain political and philosophical insights from their ancient heritage. Very little had been written in the West about these areas before he published this two-volume account in 1787. It enjoyed great popularity and even accompanied Darwin aboard the Beagle on his own voyage of discovery decades later. Reissued here is the revised and corrected French second edition, which also appeared in 1787. Volume 1 delves into the geography, ethnic divisions, religious beliefs, commerce and politics of Egypt and Syria.