Episode 15: Arab Communists in the Interwar Period with Sana Tannoury-Karam

Join Jamie Parker and James Robinson as we sit down with PhD candidate Sana Tannoury-Karam to talk about Arab Communists and the Arab Left in the interwar period through World War Two. We talked about Sana’s journey from studying political science in Beirut to studying history in Boston. She touches on individuals in Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq and the evolution of Communist Parties throughout the Arab world from organic local creativity to strict Stalinism. Sana argues for an “internationalist moment” in the interwar period, contrary of the historiography of the region being sectarian and divided. She recounts her research journeys and difficulties consulting resources in the Middle East, especially with her focus on Lebanon and women’s movements with Communism. She also explores the tensions between labor and CPs, and the politics of global anti-fascism.


From This Episode:

Books Discussed:

Colonial Citizens: Republican Rights, Paternal Privilege, and Gender in French Syria and Lebanon by Elizabeth Thompson

Militant Women of a Fragile Nation by Malek Abisaab

Comrades and Enemies: Arab and Jewish Workers in Palestine, 1906-1948 by Zachary Lockman

Workers on the Nile: Nationalism, Communism, Islam, and the Egyptian Working Class, 1882-1954 by Joel Beinin, Zachary Lockman

Arabic Thought in the Liberal Age 1798 -1939 by Albert Hourani

Liberal Thought in the Eastern Mediterranean: Late 19th Century Until the 1960s by Christoph Schumann

The Eastern Mediterranean and the Making of Global Radicalism, 1860-1914 by Ilham Khuri-Makdisi

“The “East” as a Category of Bolshevik Ideology and Comintern Administration: The Arab Section of the Communist University of the Toilers of the East” (article) by Masha Kirasirova,  Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History
Volume 18, Number 1, Winter 2017
pp. 7-34

Picture from Sana’s collection: Workers gathered for the first public celebration of May day in 1925 Beirut. Red flags and slogans of ‘workers of the world unite’.

The Breaking History podcast is a production of the Northeastern University History Graduate Student Association.

Producers and Sound Editors: Matt Bowser and Dan Squizzero
Theme Music: Kieran Legg


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