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Lecture: State Identity in the Middle East

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McGill University
Political Science
POLI 341
Julie Norman

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 Discussion Themes/Questions • 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 ◦ military ▪ 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- states (Hamas) ◦ "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 • ci
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