Lecture: State Identity in the Middle East
January 22, 2013
In the news this week
• protesters in Jordan demanding that the election be postponed
• Israeli election is today
• Impact of external actors and historical processes on state and identity
formation in the Middle East?
• National state identities real or constructed?
• National identities vs. supra/sub-state identities?
• Identity vs. interests in Middle East foreign policy making?
Defining the state
• elements of the modern state (Weber)?
◦ administrative organization
▪ some kind of organization that is sustained; a permanent
structure, be it in the form of institutions or ministries
◦ financial/tax collection system
▪ really lends a state a certain legitimacy, because it gives citizens
a contractual and vested interest in the state
▪ Costa Rica is the only state without a standing military
◦ territorial integrity
▪ having set, recognized borders (marks the difference between a
state and a nation)
◦ ideological legitimacy?
◦ modern "rational-legal" authority vs. patrimony?
▪ does it still count if you have a bureaucracy but people are given
positions based on family or kinship?
• strong states (Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia) vs. weak states (Lebanon) vs. non-
◦ "spectrum" of statehood in the Middle East
◦ nation-states vs. territory states? Examples?
Legacies of State Formation Processes
• varying levels of admin strength at establishment; independence
◦ each state had varying levels of the previously mentioned elements of
the modern state
◦ bureaucracy, military, financial systems
• state borders vs. indigenous social/economic systems
◦ difficult shift to a nation-state model
◦ drawing the borders meant they had to re-orient themselves
• social inequalities (reinforce elites)
◦ European powers were basing these new borders on the past city model
◦ rural areas still depended on the elites/tenant system
• states respond to international pressures over domestic competition (political
and economic) ◦ economic is where you see a lot of effects
◦ Rentier states
◦ dependence on foreign aid and borrowing
◦ state not held responsible enough by its own citizens through taxes
◦ affects legitimacy
National Identity and State Legitimacy