Imagining and inventing Syria: alawites as frontier case of genesis of the nation in the arabic world


Syria, Alawites, nation, nation-state, nationalism, imagined communities, the invention of traditions

How to Cite

1. Кирчанов М. Imagining and inventing Syria: alawites as frontier case of genesis of the nation in the arabic world // Journal of Frontier Studies. 2017. № 2. C. 73-106.


The author analyses transformations of the Alawite community in the contexts of the development of nationalism and its main political derivatives, including the “nation” and the “nation-state”. This article represents a revisionist attempt to transplant Western principles and methods of Nationalism Studies into Oriental non-European contexts. The author, on the one hand, uses the approaches proposed for the analysis of the genesis of capitalism and fascism and, on the other hand, he transplants them into Oriental political contexts. The author presumes that the Western theoretical approaches to Nationalism Studies are applicable to the analysis of Alawite history. It is presumed that the Alawites in contrast to other Syrian Arabs came closer to the understanding of themselves as the imagined community and invented tradition. The Alawites became a political nation in spite of themselves. The objective historical preconditions for the transformation of this community in a nation were absent or were minimal. The external negative factors, including the non-recognition of Alawites by other Muslims, stimulated social and economic transformations, accelerated the modernisation of this community, inspired its consolidation and assisted to the development of the authoritarian political regime of the al-Assad’s dynasty. The Alawites actualized intellectual tactics and strategies that allowed them to “remember” the nation in contrast to other Syrian Arabs who preferred to “forget” the nation because the values ​​and principles of the Ummah had universal significance and were more attractive to them.



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