Adam Mestyan is Associate Professor of History at Duke University. His works include Modern Arab Kingship – Remaking the Ottoman Political Order in the Interwar Middle East (Princeton University Press, 2023), Primordial History, Print Capitalism, and Egyptology in Nineteenth-Century Cairo (Ifao, 2021); and Arab Patriotism: The Ideology and Culture of Power in Late Ottoman Egypt (Princeton University Press, 2017). He is the PI of the collaborative Islamic digital humanities project, Digital Cairo – Studying Urban Transformation through a TEI XML Database, 1828-1914, supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and L’Institut français d’archéologie orientale du Caire (Ifao).
In this groundbreaking book, Adam Mestyan argues that post-Ottoman Arab political orders were not, as many historians believe, products of European colonialism but of the process of “recycling empire.” Mestyan shows that in the post–World War I Middle East, Allied Powers officials and ex-Ottoman patricians collaborated to remake imperial institutions, recycling earlier Ottoman uses of genealogy and religion in the creation of new polities, with the exception of colonized Palestine. These polities, he contends, should be understood not in terms of colonies and nation-states but as subordinated sovereign local states—localized regimes of religious, ethnic, and dynastic sources of imperial authority. Meanwhile, governance without sovereignty became the new form of Western domination.