Mosul before Iraq

Like Bees Making Five-Sided Cells

By Sarah D. Shields

Subjects: Middle East Studies
Series: SUNY series in the Social and Economic History of the Middle East
Paperback : 9780791444887, 292 pages, June 2000
Hardcover : 9780791444870, 292 pages, June 2000

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Table of contents

Maps, Illustrations, Tables, and Figures
Note on Spelling


Sources and Voices: The Scholars
Voices and Sources: The Characters

1. Mosul and Its Of

The Ottomans and Mosul
Mosul’s Government
Institutions of Government
Tanzimat: Centralization
Struggles for Power
Tanzimat: Taxation
Tanzimat: Non-Muslim Communities
Christians versus Christians
Challenge in the Mountains
Riots in the City
The Revolution of 1908

2. People of the City

Food and Water
Working Life
Making Ends Meet
Foreign Trade, Local Government, and Con
Reform and Reaction

3. Merchants

1838: The Commercial Convention
Circles of Trade: Rafts and Donkeys
Circles of Trade: Mules
Circles of Trade: Camels
Circles of Trade: Steamships
Tolls, Taxes, and Monopolies
The Challenge of Counting
Foreign Trade, Regional Trade

4. Peasants and the City

Planting and Harvesting
Land Ownership
Enforcement and Effects of the Land Reform Laws
Labor and Increasing Exports
Food, Scarcity, and Power

5. Nomads

Nomads, Sheep, and Wool
Government and the Politics of the Nomads

Conclusions and Suggestions

Politics and Foreign Trade Historiography
Epilogue: The Mosul Question
Permeable Boundaries, Impenetrable Borders
Creating a State: The Political Implications of Regional Trade


Using original source documents, this book portrays nineteenth-century Mosul--a large city currently in Iraq's "no-fly" zone.


Drawing upon original source documents, Mosul before Iraq paints a portrait of the region during the turbulent nineteenth century. What emerges is a picture of citizens less focused on Europe or Istanbul and more on centuries-old relationships among its economic and social spheres. By arguing that the region belongs to a broader geographic, economic, and political space which crosses current national borders, the book explains the continuing conflict over the status of Mosul.

Like bees building unconventional cells, Mosul's people innovated during the nineteenth century. They worked to incorporate new methods, new products, and new interactions into networks that they had already constructed in their crafts, their commerce, their city, and their region.

Sarah D. Shields is Associate Professor in the History Department at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.


"This book expands our knowledge of Mosul in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries by presenting new information culled from diplomatic archives, travel accounts, and documents of the Ottoman central government. Shields offers a revisionist view of the impact of nineteenth-century economic integration by looking at this process from the vantage of a province rather than from the viewpoint of international trade. " — Hasan Kayali, coauthor of Arabs and Young Turks: Ottomanism, Arabism, and Islamism in the Ottoman Empire, 1908–1918