Mansour, N.A.: The Arabic Christian Press: Arab, Christian, Sectarian, Local, or Global?

The Arabic-language press emerged in the mid-19 th century. Indigenous Arab-Christian populations had long been part of Arabic-language intellectual production, bringing some of the first printing presses to the region in the 17 th century. The mid 19 th century was also home to Christian missions to the Middle East and North Africa: these missionary movements set up churches, schools, and other intellectual. Both groups of Christians produced their own Arabic-language publications on Christian topics, beginning in the 1840s, but gaining full vibrancy in the 1860s. My paper will look at Christian Arabic periodicals and attempt to determine where they innovated, borrowed and collaborated with other press genres; this begs the additional question of how periodicals focusing on Christian topics were seen by contemporary editors, publishers and writers of other topics. While it is difficult to determine exactly how writers and publishers thought of themselves, each other, and their audience (very few private papers survive that could tell us about the nature of these relationships), their publications themselves will demonstrate different trends and influences in publishing. Identity is the underlying theme of many different articles and features in these publications: Arabic-speakers in particular refer to their Arab and religious identities. Often, both exist relative to one another and not in any expressed hierarchy. Rather, where they exist, tensions existed between different religious sects and not between different religion. Furthermore, Arabic-speakers also express that they belong to a greater global community. Ultimately, I will demonstrate that the press was used by Christians to craft and project an identity, in collaboration, both direct and indirect, with other editors, writers, and their periodicals. This identity was reflective of sect, Christianity, and Arab identity, both local and global.