Modern Convergent Arab Nationalism in the Mirror of Historic Memory

Modern Convergent Arab Nationalism in the Mirror of Historic Memory

Naumkin V.V.,

HSE University, Moscow, Russia; Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia,

elibrary_id: 71351 | RESEARCHER_ID: R-9576-2019

DOI: 10.17976/jpps/2021.06.04

For citation:

Naumkin V.V. Modern Convergent Arab Nationalism in the Mirror of Historic Memory. – Polis. Political Studies. 2021. No. 6. P. 42-59. (In Russ.).


Arab Nationalism (AN) is a broad ideological and political movement that played a key role in the liberation of the Arabs initially from Ottoman rule, then from European domination, and ultimately in the emergence and development of a whole array of independent Arab states. The article offers a radical new take on the current state of this movement, whose adherents have been in power in Syria for almost six decades. A review of the movement’s genesis undertaken by the author reveals that the Levant-Iraq zone has been a major feeding ground for the advent and elaboration of the united Arab nation concept, which formed the backbone of the ideology and politics of one of the three AN Pan-Arab segments – Ba‘athism. It is ascertained that for its survival, as a ruling party movement in Syria, a matter of paramount importance is the historic memory, that has played a much more prominent part in politics in Oriental countries than in the West. From an overview of the AN historical heritage, two tides of the Arab Awakening are singled out, and the role played by the personalities who devised the fundamental secular tenants of the Pan-Arab ideological and theoretical background is highlighted. In this context, the author identifies a continual trend underlying strained relationships between AN and the Levant, on the one hand, and the Ottomans, thereafter the Turkish nationalists of nowadays, on the other hand, meanwhile the modern slogan of the latter (“Five States – One Nation”) is practically a replica of the chief AN slogan (“One Arab Nation”). The article analyzes the evolution of the dichotomy: Qawmism (Pan-Arab Nationalism) – Watanism (particular, country-wise patriotism). Despite the fact that the Pan-Arab ideas have apparently suffered a crushing defeat, under conditions of glorification of the nation-state model, there are substantial prerequisites in the Arab world for its integration, that provide an impetus for AN to get back on track in the foreseeable future. However, this would require an ideological transformation of AN and for it to adopt its hybrid, or rather convergent variety, in order for it to meet the challenge of overcoming the antagonism between Qawmism and Watanism. 

Arab Nationalism, Baath, Levant, secularism, Atab Awakening, qawmism, watanism, national liberation, Islam, hybridity, convergence.


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Content No. 6, 2021

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