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We are all Levantines now 1 avril 2012

Posted by Acturca in EU / UE, France, History / Histoire, Immigration, Istanbul, Middle East / Moyen Orient, Turkey / Turquie.
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Le Monde diplomatique – English edition (France) April 2012

by Philip Mansel *

The Levant, with its eastern Mediterranean trading cities that flourished thanks to the Franco-Ottoman alliance, was an economic and diplomatic experiment that pioneered a way of life all the world now understands.

The Levant means « where the sun rises »: the eastern Mediterranean. Levant is a geographical word, free of associations with race or religion, defined not by nationality but by the sea. The great Levantine cities of Smyrna, Alexandria and Beirut were windows on the world, ports more open and cosmopolitan than inland cities like Ankara, Damascus and Cairo. From the beginning Levantine cities were international. They shared defining characteristics: geography, diplomacy, language, hybridity, trade, pleasure, modernity and vulnerability. All are present in today’s global cities.

* Philip Mansel is a historian and a founding trustee of the Levantine Heritage Foundation. His latest book is Levant: Splendour and Catastrophe on the Mediterranean, John Murray, UK, 2010/Yale, US, and Everest, Turkey, 2011

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