From Administrative to Political Order? Global Legal History, the Organic Law, and the Constitution of Mandate Syria, 1925–1930
Adam Mestyan, “From Administrative to Political Order? Global Legal History, the Organic Law, and the Constitution of Mandate Syria, 1925–1930” in Journal of Global History, 2021, p. 1–20.
This article explores the making of the State of Syria after the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire. I argue that an event-based approach in global legal history offers a useful perspective for studying the transition from imperial to international and national systems. Drawing on new archival research in France and Saudi Arabia, I focus upon the creation of the 1928 Syrian constitution in the League’s mandate to show the administrative framework of political orders. First, I describe the French administrative logic through the story of the international ‘organic law’. Second, I describe the way the organic law necessitated the Syrian political constitution. The constrained constitutional process resulted in a clash and a compromise about a Muslim president between secularist republicans and exiled, Saudi-related Muslim monarchists. Global history can profit from this approach by rethinking decolonization as administrative reorganization and by focusing on dissenting, non-state actors in state-making.
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