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date: 22 November 2017

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter provides an introduction to the problem of sectarianism in the modern Middle East. Although the focus is on the Eastern Mediterranean from the mid-nineteenth century through the present, scholars of North Africa, southeastern Europe, South Asia, and many other world-historical contexts face similar conceptual challenges in accounting for manifestations of not only sectarian but also ethnic and religious difference. Rather than accepting primordialist conceptions of sectarian phenomena, and without reducing the sectarian to instances of violence, this chapter argues that that there is a dialectical relationship between the matter of sectarianism in the modern Middle East and the scholarly research questions and journalistic lines of inquiry that contribute to its definition and, in many instances, its spread.

Keywords: sectarianism, secularism, religion, difference, history, politics

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