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date: 23 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter explores the trajectory of turāth (or the premodern Arab and Islamic cultural and religious heritage) as a political concept in modern Arab social and political thought. First, it elaborates a definition of turāth by weaving together an account of its substantive content with its various ideological mobilizations by Arab political thinkers since the mid-nineteenth century. Second, it maps anglophone scholarship on turāth as a politically relevant concept. Third, it provides an overview of how Arab political thinkers engaged turāth to authorize different political projects during colonial and postcolonial periods. Finally, the chapter examines the role that turāth plays in the political theory of the contemporary Moroccan thinker Abdullah Laroui (b. 1933). Ultimately, the chapter shows how the notion of an Arab–Islamic heritage has aided in distinguishing Arab culture from, and relating it to, its European counterpart to assert both its autonomy and its concordance with the perceived foundations of European ascendance. It is in that sense that the chapter suggests that, since its very inception, turāth has been a political and anticolonial concept par excellence.

Keywords: Arab–Islamic cultural heritage, modern Arab political thought, intellectual history of modern Arab thought, postcolonial thought, Abdullah Laroui

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