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date: 19 February 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This essay explores some of the common patterns in the history of communism in Muslim-majority societies. The most important of these had little to with Islam. Rather, they reflected the impact of European imperialism and nationalist resistance, the uneven tempo of integration into the global economy, the timing of the anti-colonial revolutions and the location of the post-colonial regimes in the great games of geopolitics. However, the other side of this narrative is the interwoven story of the decline of communist movements in most Muslim-majority societies and the rise of their Islamist competitors. It is argued that this trajectory is best explained not by recourse to essentialist explanations about the appeal of Islamist politics to Muslim believers, but by the failures of the post-colonial states on which the communists had pinned their hopes for national liberation and non-capitalist development.

Keywords: national liberation, anti-colonial revolutions, nationalism, Islamism, non-capitalist development

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