Published online by Cambridge University Press: 01 November 2008
Every society has subterranean fractures—ethnic, regional, racial, tribal, or sectarian. Given the right confluence of events, these can erupt and take on new life. When imperial and colonial powers produce a body of knowledge about those they rule, they often construct sociodemographic categories along these very fault lines. In the Middle East, this process has coincided with an attempted regional remapping using imagined and yet real (although newly configured) social categories. With the democracy project fading, the mosaic—in which the region is conceptualized as a multitude of discrete sociocultural units based on sect, ethnicity, and tribe—has appeared. Complex social categories are distilled into bounded categories whose correspondence to reality is problematic.
3 Joseph, Suad, “Muslim–Christian Conflict in Lebanon: A Perspective on the Evolution of Sectarianism,” in Muslim–Christian Conflicts: Economic, Political, and Social Origins, ed. Joseph, Suad and Pillsbury, Barbara (Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1978), 20Google Scholar.
5 Joseph, Suad “Elite Strategies for State Building: Women, Family, Religion and State in Iraq and Lebanon,” in Women, Islam and the State, ed. Kandiyoti, Deniz (Philadelphia, Pa.: Temple University Press, 1991), 186–87Google Scholar.
6 Salzman, Culture and Conflict, 181.
7 See Stanley Kurtz, “I and My Brother Against My Cousin. Is Islam the best way to understand the war on terror? Tribalism may offer a clearer view of our enemies' motivations,” Weekly Standard 13, http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/014/947kigpp.asp (accessed 25 June 2008).
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