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Title: Colonising violence : space, insurgency and subjectivity in French Mandate Syria
Author: Neep, Daniel
ISNI:       0000 0004 2692 1238
Awarding Body: School of Oriental and African Studies (University of London)
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 2008
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Accounts of colonial state formation as part of the global expansion of modernity inadequately conceptualise the role of violence in that process. By proposing that violence is a field in which power operates, not a form in which power is embodied, this thesis presents a new interpretation of colonial violence in Syria during the French Mandate. I show that violence is not an anachronistic throwback to "pre-modern" sovereign power, but a strategy of "modern" governmental power. Modern governmentality relies on the creation of free-willed yet acquiescent subjects, whose liberty violence is held to obliterate. Conversely, the spectacular punitive violence which accompanied the pacification of Syria in the 1920s shows how French colonial warfare interpellated the Syrian population to become just such free-willed, rational subjects. Modernity further depends on certain representational arrangements which I identify as present in colonial military practices in Syria, especially in discourses of progress and primitivism, military scientism and operational orders. I show how modernity'S characteristic spatial, temporal and epistemological homogeneity were produced and reproduced in and through organised violence. In contrast, the military practices of Syrian rebel bands embodied distinctly non-modern modes of representation. Rebel military manuals order violence in ways radically different to colonial doctrine. French forces and Syrian rebels had equally divergent visions of how best to conceptualise the space in which they fought. In case studies of the Ghuta, the Jabal Druze, the Syrian Desert and the urban centres of Damascus, Aleppo, Palmyra and al-Qamishll, I show that violence and space were intertwined in colonial state formation. By contrasting and exploring the representational arrangements inherent to the mundane mechanisms of colonial practices of violence, I seek to offer new insights into how the border between "modern" and "non-modern" power is produced in the colonised world.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available