Abdullah Hanna was born in the Syrian village of Deir Attiyah in 1932, and earned a PhD in history from the University of Leipzig in 1965. Blocked from Syrian academia due to his political leanings, Hanna instead became an instructor in Syrian secondary schools. He became a specialist on agrarian history and labour movements in Syria. His works, published in Arabic, include books on intellectual trends in Syria and Lebanon; the Syrian and Lebanese labour movements; anti-fascism in Syria and Lebanon; the agrarian question in Syria and Lebanon; and obstacles to the transition to capitalism.
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