Nation-States and Nationalism after the Arab Uprising

Omair Anas

Abstract


International Relations as a discipline has evolved primarily to analyse the behaviour of nation-states in their interactions with their compatriots in the world. The underlying assumptions were that territorially demarcated sovereign units will be equally received by each other, equally protected and will be necessarily differentiated on their distinguishable identities.

 

The 21st century dawned accompanied with an increasing debate on the role of globalisation in weakening the rigidity of nation-states, forcing them to be flexible on their earlier perception of sovereignty and to consider the globality of labour, capital, media and culture. The role of information and communication technology was indeed a vital player in exposing the vulnerability of nation-states in excercise of their sovereignty vis-a-vis most unrestrictable global flows. This necessitated to evolve more  global IR in which the transnationality gradually became an important and to some extent, a desirable reference.

 

The Arab uprising and the subsequent civil wars, however, challenged the continuity of Middle Eastern exceptionalism and infallibility of Nation State. Now the questions such as if nation states can still define the Middle Eastern politics, both internal and regional? The main source of interpretation of public life, the public discourse in popular media are not necessarily "nationally originated or inspired". Here comes the need to re-examine the role of nation-states in the Middle East after the Arab uprising in which extra territorial states have become more influential and more acceptable in the public domain.  Interestingly enough, the main defence to the failing regimes, who earlier enjoyed extra territorial sources of legitimacy, are inclined to nationalisation of their public sphere once again. This paper will inquire the ongoing debate on a possible reemergence of nationalism in the region.

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