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The 31st Annual Sabbagh Lecture: “The Sassoons: The Great Global Merchants and the Making of an Empire”

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On March 14, 2024, at 7 p.m., Joseph Sassoon, Professor of History and Political Economy at Georgetown University and the al-Sabah Chair in Politics and Political Economy of the Arab World, will give the 31st Annual Sabbagh Lecture: “The Sassoons: The Great Global Merchants and the Making of an Empire.” The lecture will be held at Arizona Historical Society’s Arizona History Museum at 949 East 2nd Street.
The annual Sabbagh Lecture is presented by the University of Arizona School of Anthropology through the generosity of Dr. Entisar Sabbagh and the late Dr. Adib Sabbagh. Both the lecture and the reception that follows are free and open to the public.

About the Lecture:
The influential merchants of the 19th and early 20th centuries shaped the globalization of today. The Sassoons, a Baghdadi-Jewish trading family, built a global trading enterprise by taking advantage of major historical developments during the 19th century. Their story is not just one of an Arab Jewish family that settled in India, traded in China, and aspired to be British. It also presents an extraordinary vista into the world in which they lived and prospered economically, politically, and socially.
In this lecture, Professor Sassoon will explore not only the rise of the Sassoon family, but also their decline: why it happened, how political and economic changes after the First World War adversely affected them, and finally, how realizing their aspirations to reach the upper echelons of British society led to their disengagement from business and prevented them from adapting to the new economic and political world order.

About the Speaker:
Joseph Sassoon is a Professor of History and Political Economy at Georgetown University and holds the al-Sabah Chair in Politics and Political Economy of the Arab World. He is also a Senior Associate Member at St Antony’s College, Oxford.
In 2013, his book Saddam Hussein’s Ba‘th Party: Inside an Authoritarian Regime (Cambridge University Press, 2012) won the prestigious British-Kuwait Prize for the best book on the Middle East.
Sassoon completed his Ph.D. at St Antony’s College, Oxford. He has published extensively on Iraq and its economy and on the Middle East. His fifth book is titled: The Sassoons: The Great Global Merchants and the Making of an Empire (Pantheon, 2022).

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