Arab nationalism in Anglophone discourse

A conceptual and historical reassessment

Authored by: Jasmine K. Gani

The Routledge Handbook to the Middle East and North African State and States System

Print publication date:  November  2019
Online publication date:  November  2019

Print ISBN: 9780367358877
eBook ISBN: 9780429342486
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter argues for a reassessment of the dominant position on Arab nationalism within the Anglophone academic literature, which posits that Arab nationalism carries little relevance in contemporary regional politics after capitulating in the 1967 war. I contest this narrative with the following arguments: first, English-language discourse on Middle East politics has depended on realist frameworks that diminish the significance of ideology—this trend should be interrogated with a more complex reading of ideology. Second, greater historicization of Arab nationalism, distinguishing between early and latter priorities, facilitates awareness of contending visions of Arab nationalism and prevents judging it as a homogenous entity. Third, Egyptocentric readings of Arab nationalism have contributed to assertions of its failure, whereas side-stepping to a Syrian lens offers an alternative account. And finally, rival and opposition ideologies in the region shed light on Arab nationalism’s continued relevance, contra its dismissal in influential Anglophone studies.

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