Skip to Gallatin Navigation Skip to Gallatin Main Content

Philippe Asseily

MA – Near East History: Beirut Circa 1760

Born and raised in Beirut, Philippe left Lebanon—and the civil war there—when he was a teenager. After graduating from high school in France, he attended University of California, Berkeley, where he majored in economics. A move to New York established him as a derivatives trader and a money manager. Separate from his work, Philippe independently cultivated his interest in the Near East—the area of South East Asia that includes Turkey, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia. Thirty years after first graduating from college, Philippe came to Gallatin to study the complexities and singular aspects of the region.

“Gallatin was the ideal choice as it not only allowed me to study on a part-time basis,” he says, “but it also afforded me access to the whole NYU faculty. As I was interested in concentrating on social sciences pertaining to the Near East, being able to choose classes across departments was an opportunity that I was not going to overlook.”

Philippe has had the option of taking courses from professors who had written books he admired, including Professor Michael Gilsenan, author of Lords of the Lebanese Marches. His studies at Gallatin have centered around Levantinism, an idiosyncratic form of cosmopolitanism that developed in the Eastern Mediterranean in the past two centuries. Over the course of his time at Gallatin, Philippe shifted his focus and began to examine the history of Beirut in the eighteenth century. Says Philippe, “My work amounts to an exercise in embryonic social history, studying interactions between diverse groups of people in a frontier town of less than five thousand inhabitants at the periphery of the Ottoman Empire.”