Nationalism in the Middle East, 1876–1945

Aviel Roshwald

in The Oxford Handbook of the History of Nationalism

Published in print March 2013 | ISBN: 9780199209194
Published online May 2013 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in History

Nationalism in the Middle East, 1876–1945

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  • History
  • Asian History
  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)



The period under consideration was one of profound political, ethnographic, and ideological transformation in the Middle East. The centralizing policies and Turkish-nationalist agenda of the ruling Committee of Union and Progress (Young Turks) in the years following the Ottoman Empire’s 1908 Revolution led to tensions with sociopolitical elites in the empire’s Arabic-speaking regions. Ottomans’ entry into the First World War was the occasion for the organization of the Armenian Genocide, while the Greco-Turkish conflict of the early 1920s culminated in the massive transfer of Muslim and Greek Orthodox populations between Greece and Turkey. Ottomans’ defeat in the First World War also led to the partition of the Arab Middle East between Britain and France under the cover of League of Nations mandates. Britain’s Balfour Declaration created a framework for the resumption and acceleration of Jewish immigration to, and land purchase in, Palestine under the auspices of the Zionist movement. With the disappearance of the Ottomans’ pan-Islamic and supra-national framework of political legitimacy, the region’s Arab elites embraced the nationalist idea as the organizing principle of their political praxis. Yet the division of the region into separate European-ruled territorial entities (Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Transjordan, Palestine) created long-term tensions between the ideals of Pan-Arab unity and loyalty to one’s individual state.

Keywords: 1908 Revolution; Arabic; Armenian Genocide; Balfour Declaration; Britain; Committee of Union and Progress; First World War; France; Greece; Greek Orthodox; Iraq; League of Nations; Lebanon; Middle East; Muslim; Palestine; Pan-Islamic; Syria; Transjordan; Turkey; Young Turks; Zionist

Article.  10938 words. 

Subjects: History ; Asian History ; Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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