Tourist spaces. The Arab East as European tourist destination in the interwar period (Working Title)

The establishment of mandates and protectorates in the region of the former Ottoman Empire contributed to a further extension of European colonial empires, while the legitimacy of imperial dominance was already being disputed at the time and nationalist movements were claiming sovereignty. During the same period of time, colonial culture in the metropoles attained its height and orientalist visions of the populations still formed an important framework for perceiving non-European cultures. Along with these conflicting ideas, the emerging tourist industry profited from the European administrations’ presence in the Arab East and tourism to the region was becoming more common. Thus, European travellers transported their own orientalist mindsets back to the region where these conceptions were supposed to originate.

This Ph.D. project aims to explore how tourism both reflected and shaped the spatial order of the Arab Eastern Mediterranean after World War I. The contributions of the Mandate powers, national movements, local intellectuals and entrepreneurs, and tourists themselves will be examined on the basis of a variety of source material, both textual and visual. The Mandates of Syria/Lebanon and Palestine, as well as Egypt will serve as case studies. Apart from providing insights into identities, imaginations, cooperation and conflicts among different agents within the tourist space, this investigation will shed new light on the interwar period and demonstrate its significance for more general developments in the twentieth century.