Written Resistance: How the Middle Class in French Syria and Lebanon Utilized Petitions to fight for better Conditions inside the Mandate-Era Classroom Open Access

This thesis utilizes petitions written to the League of Nations’ Permanent Mandate Commission to explore the educational conditions facing the mostly Sunni middle class in mandate-era Syria and Lebanon. Petitions addressing education paint a picture of limited educational opportunities and classrooms which lacked the proper resources. These petitions also show that parents had little if any control over the narrative portrayed inside the mandate-era classroom. These findings are consistent with the conclusions of Elizabeth Thompson and other mandate historians. She and other historians have argued that resources were distributed along a confessional hierarchy with the Sunni community at the bottom of that hierarchy. These petitions are also evidence of a broad-based resistance movement by members of the Sunni middle class. While Petitions submitted to the PMC which address political matters, such as government representation and the creation of borders, strictly involved political elites, petitions addressing education involved other members of the community. Middle class members of the Sunni Community asserted their presence by signing on to the petitions in large numbers and participating and utilizing the language which governed the League of Nations to make their claims. This thesis attempts to tell the story of Sunni educational hardships in the community’s own words and to demonstrate that the Sunni Middle Class was actively involved in a resistance against French rule. This thesis elevates the middle class within the mandate-era historiography, highlighting their role as international actors fighting for equality.

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