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A Taste for HomeThe Modern Middle Class in Ottoman Beirut$
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Toufoul Abou-Hodeib

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780804799799

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804799799.001.0001

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Things at Home

Things at Home

(p.83) Chapter 4 Things at Home
A Taste for Home

Toufoul Abou-Hodeib

Stanford University Press

This chapter looks at how objects that entered the middle-class home in the late nineteenth century generated a new kind of domesticity. Although its relation to public benefit remained ambiguous, the home was indirectly transformed by its changing urban environment and by new spatial ideals. In addition, Beirut’s prominence as port city and its growing appetite for the new exposed it to a stream of novel domestic objects that were often adopted, adapted, and embraced. Domestic things, the meanings embedded in them, and their potential to communicate social status contributed to giving the middle class its identity even in the most intimate of spaces. The impact of new imports, such as phonographs, on life at home as well as in marital disputes in the Hanafi court, shows the potential for new objects to redefine social relations, making taste more than just an individual matter.

Keywords:   hygiene, aesthetics, consumption, domestic space, domestic entertainment, furniture, Thonet chair, decoration, photography, phonographs

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