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Pensee 3: the modernity of the Arabs

Halliday, Fred (2009) Pensee 3: the modernity of the Arabs. International Journal of Middle East Studies, 41 (1). pp. 16-18. ISSN 0020-7438

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Identification Number: 10.1017/S0020743808090065


The study of Arab nationalism, and indeed of all nationalisms, is beset with particular problems. One is the imprecision of the main concepts involved, starting with the definition of nation. Another is the confusion, inherent in the very word “nationalism,” between two quite different objects of study—nationalism as a movement, as a social and political force, and nationalism as an ideology. The first allows objective, historical analyses of how a particular movement arose and developed in such and such a country, of the social groups that supported and/or opposed it, and, not least, of how states have sought to define and utilize it. The second is an aspiration, an ideological and normative claim, one with a strong tendency to control public debate; it has an inherent tendency to distort the history of the supposed “nation.” The special claims nationalists make for their particular nation cause a third problem: although modern history has yielded hundreds of cases of nationalism, as movement and ideology, nationalism occasions analysis that is singular, treating the nation in question as unique and avoiding comparison.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2009 Cambridge University Press
Divisions: International Relations
Subjects: J Political Science > JZ International relations
Date Deposited: 07 Dec 2011 12:07
Last Modified: 20 Aug 2021 00:49

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