CrossRoads: European cultural diplomacy and Arab Christians in Palestine. A connected history during the formative years of the Middle East.


This project proposes a connected history of the Arab Christian communities in Palestine during the formative years of the Middle East (1920-1959) and the birth of the cultural diplomacy via an interdisciplinary and entangled approach relying on mainly unpublished sources.
It will investigate the relationship between the European cultural agenda and the local identity formation process, and social and religious transformations of Arab Christian communities in Palestine.

Recent developments in the Middle East have brought religious difference back to the attention of the scholarly world, questioning the numerous differences beneath the notion of nationalistic Arab unity and the role of culture. Culture provides a powerful tool to analyse the connected history of Arab Christians with Europe. The cultural spectrum reveals, on the contrary, a rich diversity of Arab Christianity and allows us to explore it ‘from within and without’ during this formative period for the Middle East with two political transitions (the British Mandate and the creation of Israel). In the multicultural landscape of Palestine, the British authorities left somewhat apart the Christian communities, via their legal frameworks, proto-national agenda, and sectarian policies while political ideology and rivalry between European states took on a cultural component.

The project will analyse the cultural practices and ideas of the two main Christian communities of Palestine (Orthodox and Melkites), their communal and religious leaders (foreign and local), and their interactions with different European cultural actors and early diplomacy (cultural, regional and global perspective). This entangled history will be traced via unrevealed archives, nuanced by the comparative analysis of British and Zionist archives, and the cultural agenda of their Jewish and Muslim compatriots, through a cross-archival and interdisciplinary approach, proposing a dynamic model of the politics of identity via culture, in a regional and global perspective.





Dr. K.M.J. Sanchez

Verbonden aan

Universiteit Leiden, Faculteit der Geesteswetenschappen, Leiden University Centre for Linguistics (LUCL)


C. Nassif, C. Nassif, K Papastathis, Dr. K.M.J. Sanchez, Dr. C. Zananiri


01/12/2017 tot 31/10/2022