Mazower’s View of Islam as Alien to Europe

In the book ‘Salonica: City of Ghosts’, Mazower observes that several cultures could have been in existence in Europe in the past but wiped out by other developments. Again, the recording of such history may have been overlooked due to greed by nations and communities to portray only their own way of life and not experiences of previous occupants. Such was the case with the Islamic in several parts of Europe. The book describes the Islamic life in early Salonica to the extent that most people would believe it rarely existed.  Though today located in Greece and demonstrating a Greek culture, Salonica had not always been like that (Mazower). In the old times, the city appeared to be one of the greatest of Ottoman cities. 

According to Mazower’s analysis of the historical progress of Salonica, Islam seem to have reached the Western Europe parts at least by this time. In the 1430, the town fell under the conquest of Ottoman and was placed under a Muslim ruler Sultan Murad II. For the next two century the town culture and way of life had experienced transition to being Ottoman city from Byzantine. With the Islamic population rising at a rapid rate, there were vast constructions of public baths, dervish lodges, as well as market buildings that portrayed Islamic culture (Mazower). That was in addition to mosques. 

Further trade activities were dominated by imarets and waqfs from the top ghazi families. Soon the building and architectural works were to see the city’s skyline change depicting towers, domes and minarets from its new inhabitants. However, by the 16th century, the Jewish population had started to increase bringing about a component of Judeo-Hispanic to the already Greco-Muslim Salonica. By the seventeenth century, Jews became the largest occupants of the city, an aspect that would soon get noticed from the changing culture. With the Jewish majority, the city saw increased synagogues, libraries as well as increased trade and number of intellectuals (Mazower). The Judeo-Ottoman culture of Salonica had started to emerge. 

Although the city status was overtime changing to cosmopolitan nature, a new social-political life had evolved due to political control shifting to Muslim landowners who came from Macedonia. The ninetieth century saw the Europeans flock to the city for trade. However, at the end of 19th century, the cosmopolitan nature of Salonica was threatened by quest for nationalism claimed by both Bulgarian and Hellenistic nationals. The city was later flocked by Greek refugees and by the time of the world war one, Hellenistic culture was fast growing within the city (Mazower). Muslims were ill treated and after the 1917 great fire that left the city wrecked, the Islamic cultural designs were wiped off, and a New Greek town began to rebuild. 

Moreover, due to nationalistic hostilities the Treaty of Lausanne allowed for exchange of Muslims in the city with Greek nationals from Turkey. The act completely wiped out any visible traces of Islamic culture in Salonica. From the description of events to the current city composition, it is evident that Islam may not be new in Europe per se. Mazower work recognizes the reason why it has become difficult to track such moments could have resulted from previous hostilities and nationalistic ideologies (Mazower). In fact, both Christianity and Islam have been with conflict with each other for many centuries where the winner worked hard to erase the culture of the other. In fact, after the defeat of Ottomans by the Greeks, the latter had concentrated in changing the dominating culture of the former by all necessary means (Mazower). In summary as could be learnt from Mazower’s work, greed has overtaken the true nature of historical recording only providing the one favoring the winner.

 

De-industrializing Europe

The declining levels of industries in Europe have characterized patterns. The high energy costs as well as economic turmoil hitting on the continent has in fact propelled this process. Worst of it are the indications that de-industrialization would continue for longer periods. The trend seems to hit one country after another thus beginning to send the economic and social life of the continent into total dismay. While some of the cities in the region are hard stricken by the closure of industries, others are experiencing a boost, and hence sidelining the previously popular urban centers. 

In reality, most part of Europe recording high growth in industry is those in localities that were previously considered as underdeveloped. One such metropolis has been Gothenburg City in Sweden, which has recorded a sharp decline from its former glory of being an industrialized city fifty years ago. Also under threat is the United Kingdom, the first country in the world to have a developed manufacturing sector. Other countries that have suffered this fit are from Eastern Europe especially those that were previously under the soviet rule. 

As development in rural areas started to take shape life has started to sprout out in the local urban centers. The newly developing towns are experiencing change of culture propelled by the growing number of emigrant workers moving to those areas. Globalization has become a center stage of modern cities formation (Jerram). The cosmopolitan nature of individuals from various cultural backgrounds has heavily impacted on the social lives of those residing in those urban centers. 

While workers are moving from the cities that have closed down their industries to the growing towns, they come in hoping to make a fresh start. That has enormously helped in the integration of the societies that come to work in the robustly glowing areas. Leif Jerram in his book, ‘Streetlife: The Untold History of Europe Twentieth Century’, he argues that development of the cities saw the people embrace new way of life easing up on some of the things done in conservative societies (Jerram). For example, the writer observes that night club and football stadiums among other development brought about by the industrialization made notable changes to European city life. 

Further, with new manufacturing employment opportunities have been created in those areas. The high number of workers has seen rise of the middle class in the city who now seek to entertain themselves as well as their families within the cities. That has created a whole new way of interaction. Without a distinct culture and people willing to adopt new ways of life, people are fast moving away from conservatism in life (Jerram). Emergence of cultures where some practices were considered immoral has now risen. For instance, prostitution and same-sex relations have become more acceptable in the cities than in rural areas. 

Furthermore, women have gain more rights and have become bread winners within their families other than just playing the role of housewives. Besides, children in these urban areas are getting encouragement to grow their talents and not only depend on academic work. That is giving new life to the cities especially through emergence of new ways of entertainment and businesses which portray a global culture (Jerram). On the other hand, the urban areas that are on decline in industry have seen rise in crime and economic collapse due to the ensuing unemployment. Such activities then lead the town inhabitants to opt out of the city in search for safer areas. For those who fail to leave, they tend to develop own self defenses thus leading the cities or some parts of those urban areas to fall to some sought of anarchy.

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Sep 13, 2019 in History Essay Samples