PATERNAL REPUBLICANISM AND THE
CONSTRUCTION OF SUBALTERN CITIZENS
In the postwar period the intimate matters of the household became the target of a sustained and intense public scrutiny. Choices families made on how to allocate their resources became the subject of general debate: how much food families consumed; whether they were giving their babies sterile milk; how clean mothers kept their homes; how much time parents allowed for their sons' and daughters' education; whether they depended on children to contribute to household income; whether mothers were spending too much time at work and not enough on caring for their families; whether fathers should be the sole breadwinners, earning a family wage. These and similar issues were debated at political club meetings and ladies' charity socials, and in government offices, newspapers, and cafes.
While such discussions had occurred before World War I, in the context of Ottoman reform and the need to save the empire, the terms of discussion were utterly transformed by the war and the French occupation. As discussed in Part One, the war had shattered many households and prostrated others to an unforgettable base of vulnerability. At the same time, the war marked the end of several decades of prosperity, and opened the door to state intervention in household affairs. However, France's paternalistic social policy distributed benefits unevenly, aggravating gender, class, and religious tensions that had mounted in the trauma of the war. These factors contributed to the rise of new urban social movements that did not merely discuss social reforms, but organized to demand them from the state as a right, as had never been done under the Ottomans. The
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Publication information: Book title: Colonial Citizens:Republican Rights, Paternal Privilege, and Gender in French Syria and Lebanon. Contributors: Elizabeth Thompson - Author, Leila Fawaz - Editor. Publisher: Columbia University Press. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 2000. Page number: 71.
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