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C O U R S E 
The Emergence of the Modern Middle East
Asher Susser, Tel Aviv University
C O U R S E   L E C T U R E 
The Middle East, its Origins, and the Modern Era
Notes taken on April 9, 2014 by Edward Tanguay
What is the Middle East?
in the Middle East, both geography and time has been defined by outsiders
if you look at cities from the perspective of Istanbul, Cairo or Tel Aviv, it's not apparent that they are in the middle or at the east of anything
the term Middle East makes sense if you are looking at this area of the world from Paris, London or Washington
the Middle East is on the way to the Far East
even though this term was created by foreigners, the people in the Middle East use this term to describe the region in which they live
Arabic: Al-Sharq al-Awsat
Turkish: Ortado─ču
Persian: Khavar-e Miyaneh
Hebrew: HaMizrach HaTichon
the term Middle East was actually created by an American naval historian Alfred Thayer Mahan
used the term in an article in 1902
the fact that the people of this area of the world use a geological term created by foreigners to describe where they live is an indication of the influence that foreign powers have had on this area of the world
time is defined in this region according to the Gregorian, Western calendar
there are also Muslim and Jewish calendars
but day to day life is not governed by these calendars but by the Gregorian, Western Christian calendars
Middle Eastern countries
all the Arab countries in the Gulf such as Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia
plus the three non-Arab countries: Turkey, Iran, and Israel
the countries in the Middle East is the "patchwork of foreigners", where imperial power sat and created states where states had not existed before
countries were created with new identities which did not yet actually exist
in the Middle East it is more appropriate to speak of state-nations rather than nation-states
countries in Europe were more often defined by national, linguistic and territorial identity
in the Middle East, countries were created before these demarcations existed
e.g. Jordan, Palestine, Syria, Lebanese, and Iraq did not have one group of people who belonged to these countries when they were created
however, with the existence of these states, a kind of nation emerged, hence "state-nations"
one historical difference between Europe and the Middle East is that whereas in Europe throughout the centuries people tended to define themselves in terms of language and territory, people in the Middle East tended to define themselves in terms of religious belief. Collective identity was about religion, and not about territory and language. It was only after the long-standing impact of the West that identities began to shift and emerge towards a more European style territorial linguistic identity.
during the 19th century, the Middle East went through very important periods of reform
Ottoman reform
Tanzimat: reorganization of the Ottoman Empire between 1839 and 1876
Islamic reform
nationalism 19th an
speaks about sovereignty of man rather than the sovereignty of god
end of WWI
Ottoman Empire, which ruled the Arab countries for 400 years, came to an end
but it was not seen by the Arabs as an imperial conqueror and but as a legitimate Arab authority
the fact the the Ottomans were Turks was not held against them
it was not seen as a Turkish occupation against nations
Turkish Muslims ruling over Arab Muslims, what was important was not the Turkishness or the Arabness of the peoples but their Islamic religious belief
The Ottoman Empire was not called into question until very late in its history
called into question with the emergence of Arab nationalism
with the fall of the Ottoman Empire and the creation of new states on the ruins of the Ottoman Empire
these new states served Western imperial interests, those of France and Britain above all else
these states divided the Arabs into zones which did not necessarily have to do with how they wanted to be groups according to the Arab nationalism movement
therefore the Arab state order did not enjoy much legitimacy in the eyes of the Arabs themselves
Arab nationalism throughout 20th century
a mixture between pure secular national ideas and Islamic identity
but as popular as it was in the 20th century, it was a dismal failure in political practice
most notably in the conflict with Israel
defeated the Arabs twice: in 1948 and 1967
these wars with Israel serve as a monument to Arab failure to effectively meet the Western challenge
as it is this kind of monument to Arab failure, Israel find it difficult to be accepted by the Arab world
in the aftermath of the 1967 war, politics in the Middle East was dominated by two trends
1. acquiescence in the colonial state order, it was now more legitimate to speak of the Egyptian, Jordan, and Syrian states
more was said about these states interests than Arab nationalism
2. radical Islamic revival
filled the vacuum which had been left by the failure of Arab nationalism
is looking at the last 150-200 years in an effort to promote an alternative route to modernity without a framework of an Islamic cultural and legal framework