20. Reconstructing Homeland at a Time of Globalizing Change: Peasant Migration in Late Medieval Syria
Bethany J. Walker [+]
University of Bonn
The lives of peasants across the Mediterranean were transformed by the greater interconnectedness of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, which drove changes in land tenure and use, facilitated market agriculture, and encouraged rural migration. This chapter scrutinizes this phenomenon as it played out in Greater Syria at the end of the medieval era, making use of a closely integrated “reading” of the archaeological record and the contemporary textual record (namely Mamluk and Ottoman-era Arabic documents related to land use and daily life in village communities). This is in an effort to disentangle imperial interventions from local decision-making in regards to planting and water use and distribution (presented here as social canons in natural resource management). In this way it adopts a Bourdieu-esque approach to understanding how concepts of “homeland” developed over time and to documenting the changing contours of local “identity-making” on a small scale.