Transnational Modes and Media: The Syrian Press in the Mahjar and Emigrant Activism during World War I
This article argues that during World War I, the Syrian and Lebanese periodical press in the American mahjar created new space for transnational political activism. In São Paulo, Buenos Aires, and New York City, diasporic journalists and political activists nurtured a new nationalist narrative and political culture in the press. In a public sphere linking mahjar to mashriq, what began with discussions about Ottoman political reform transformed into nationalist debate during the war. Intellectuals constructed and defined the “Syrian” and “Lebanese” national communities in the diaspora's newspapers, but the press also played an important practical role in promoting and shaping patterns of charity, remittances, and political activism towards the homeland. Using materials from this press, the article concludes that the newspaper industry's infrastructure enabled new patterns of political activism across the mahjar, but also channeled Syrian efforts into a complex alliance with France by the eve of the Mandate.