This chapter, in setting the stage, first offers a theoretical framework for understanding culture as a forum of exchange and negotiation between diverse leaders, communities, and institutions, and provides a note on the structure of the book and its sources. Following that, it outlines the historical background of the Mandates most relevant to understanding the intersection between politics and culture in the Levant. It describes the cultural networks for Syria and Lebanon. Part I of this book discusses how Levantine political and religious leaders cooperated, negotiated, and competed with the French government over the provision of education and language instruction. Part II widens the circle of actors to consider other Western powers which, like the French, saw the Middle East as an integral factor of Mediterranean security. Finally, the third part of this study focuses on a cultural phenomenon that drew the attention of almost all parties with a stake in culture, namely scouting and youth movements.
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