Arabi Cristiani di Transgiordania. Spazi politici e cultura tribale (1841-1922)

Translated title of the contribution: [Autom. eng. transl.] Trans-Jordanian Arab Christians. Political spaces and tribal culture (1841-1922)

Research output: Book/ReportBook


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. T
Translated title of the contribution[Autom. eng. transl.] Trans-Jordanian Arab Christians. Political spaces and tribal culture (1841-1922)
Original languageItalian
Number of pages323
ISBN (Print)9788856840438
Publication statusPublished - 2011

Publication series



  • Arab Christians
  • Arabi Cristiani
  • Comunità religiosa
  • Emirato Hashemita di Transgiordania
  • Impero Ottomano
  • Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem
  • Medio Oriente
  • Middle East
  • Missionari
  • Missionaries
  • Ottoman Empire
  • Patriarcato Latino di Gerusalemme
  • Religion and Politics
  • Transgiordania
  • Tribalisimo
  • Tribalism
  • state-building process


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