Minorities, Majorities and the Writing of History

Benjamin Thomas White

in The Emergence of Minorities in the Middle East

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print July 2011 | ISBN: 9780748641871
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748653287 | DOI:
Minorities, Majorities and the Writing of History

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This book has demonstrated that minorities in Syria emerged during the mandate period as a result of the development of the nation-state form. As state authority spread across the territory, it bound the population closely together as a single unit under a single set of institutions within fixed borders. For some groups within the population, this fixed them in a state structure where they were a minority, while others gave them a sense of belonging to the majority within the state. As the presence of the state in the everyday life of the population intensified, the institutional relationship between the population and the state was redefined. While the state now claimed to represent the population, the majority claimed the right to define that relationship. Others, however, had limited rights and were constituted as minorities. It was this transformation of the state that created the objective conditions within which Syrians began to understand their society as being made up of minorities and a majority. Precisely how they chose to define those groups, and what political implications they drew from their definition, was an open question: the categories themselves remained subjective.

Keywords: minorities; Syria; mandate period; nation-state form; state authority; fixed borders; majority

Chapter.  1993 words. 

Subjects: Society and Culture

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