Julia Gettle, ACOR-CAORC Pre-Doctoral Fellow Spring 2019

Julia Gettle is a Ph.D. candidate in History at Brown University and an ACOR-CAORC pre-doctoral fellow for spring 2019. Her research while at ACOR focuses on the social and intellectual history of popular politics in mid-20th century Greater Syria, particularly centering on Pan-Arab nationalist, nation-state nationalist, and Marxist political mobilization in the 1950s and 1960s.


Julia Gettle in 2015, photo courtesy of same

In its broadest sense, Julia’s dissertation explores the intersections between the waning of secular, populist, and transnational Pan-Arabism and the emergence of new modalities of politics centered on religion, class, and the nation-state. The narrative is structured by a series of social and institutional biographies of activist networks linked to the Movement of Arab Nationalists (Harakat al-Qawmiyyin al-‘Arab, or MAN), an influential Pan-Arabist group whose ideological and organizational transformations acted as a microcosm of the region’s dramatic mid-century political shifts. Drawing on a mix of archival and oral sources in Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, and the United States, these social and institutional biographies interrogate a variety of modes of popular political engagement, ranging from ideological production through MAN-linked presses and literary societies to grassroots activism and guerrilla struggle. The dissertation’s bottom-up approach to political mobilization aims to demonstrate the contingent and contested nature of Arab nationalist, nation-state nationalist, and Marxist forms of politics, recognizing how even ideologically grounded activists’ political choices reflected the structuring influence of nation-state boundaries and subjectivities of class, gender, locality, and sect. 


Julia’s work in Jordan focuses specifically on the MAN’s networks in Jordan and the West Bank, where cadres recruited through local schools, sports clubs, and Palestinian refugee camps organized demonstrations in support of Gamal Abdel Nasser and ultimately formed the vanguard of the early feda’i movement. While earlier phases of Julia’s research in Beirut and Tyre utilized a mix of press and institutional archives, oral histories, and family papers, her research in Amman, Irbid, and Salt will be almost entirely based on interviews with former activists and their networks.


Julia received her M.A. in History from Brown University in 2016 and has conducted extensive archival and oral history research in Lebanon and France in preparation for her dissertation. Before starting her Ph.D. studies, she spent a year living in Lebanon where she worked as an editor at a local news website focused on regional politics. She received her B.A. (highest honors) in History from the University of California at Berkeley in 2013. 


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