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Beyond Rhetoric: Reassessing Bedouin-Ottoman Relations along the Route of the Hijaz Telegraph Line at the End of the Nineteenth Century

In: Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient
Author: Mostafa Minawi1
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This article examines Ottoman imperial and provincial relationships with Bedouin tribes living along the Hijaz Telegraph Line route. Using the construction of the Hijaz Telegraph Line as a case study, it demonstrates how anti-Bedouin rhetoric was strategically employed to justify actions policies recommended by provincial powers determined to block the imperial government’s plans to build a link between the Hijaz and Istanbul. It also shows how sabotage of the telegraph lines carried out by some Bedouin tribesmen was often instigated by oppressive measures put in place by the same provincial powers. Overall, it argues for the necessity of understanding the context in which rhetorical tools were employed when historians analyze rhetoric for the purpose of drawing conclusion about the nature of Ottoman imperial rule along the empire’s frontiers at the end of the nineteenth century.

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