The Origin and Development of the Idea of “Minority” in the MENA Region: A Multilevel Analysis

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In the wake of these events and dynamics, the spotlight has turned again on the condition and status of religious minorities within MENA societies and political fields, fostering debates on their destinies between survival and inevitable emigration abroad. Nevertheless, their imperilling is indicative of a broader and deeper crisis that is involving and entangling the whole region, making the concept of minority particularly central for understanding today’s political and legitimacy crisis. Precisely because of this, the present analysis aims to reconsider how the idea of minority, as a concept and institution, has been contextualised and developed in the contemporary MENA region since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and in what form it has recently re-emerged as one of the core issues of today’s regional and international political concerns. First, the study seeks to deconstruct the concept of minority to define its multiple implications. An appreciation of the elasticity of this term is needed to avoid misunderstandings and abuses, directly targeting the root causes of current minority issues in the region and each country. Secondly, the analysis sketches out a short overview of the multifaceted character of today’s MENA minority issues and of the multiple factors that feed these dynamics, at the historical, national, regional and transnational levels. This contextualisation is particularly important to stress the complexity of today’s politically transformative dynamics in the region, avoiding culturalism and exceptionalism. Finally, the study analyses the historical correlation between minority, both as a concept and institution, state sovereignty and geopolitics in the contemporary MENA region. This intimate and structural relation has always made minority issues particularly controversial within this context and still represents one of the most robust limits to the management of diversity. In fact, majority and minority have frequently represented contested fields of rivalry for power and regional leadership rather than terms through which to consolidate true and effective citizenship based on guaranteeing both equal rights at the collective and individual levels.
Lingua originaleEnglish
Numero di pagine37
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2018


  • Ethnicity
  • Middle East
  • Minority
  • Politics and religion


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