The last decade of French Mandate rule in Syria and Lebanon bears witness to the prominence of culture in a politically contested region. Flanking the eastern shores of the Mediterranean, these two states proved a crucible of international strategic interests, attracting French, Anglo–Saxon, Italian, and German notice. The participants in the cultural networks that operated in Syria and Lebanon belonged to many different nations. They shared the conviction that cultural institutions could serve a variety of political ends by shaping people's language, values, and identity. Despite what often amounted to a dearth of measurable political results, the confidence in culture as a sphere of political action perpetuated itself with remarkable momentum. Once culture became an accepted means with which to fight one's political rivals, no established or ascendant authority could afford to ignore it.
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