Understanding 'sectarianism': Sunni-Shi'a relations in the modern Arab world (2020)
in: Oxford scholarship online
'Sectarianism' is one of the most over-discussed yet under-analysed concepts in debates about the Middle East. Despite the deluge of commentary, there is no agreement on what 'sectarianism' is. Is it a social issue, one of dogmatic incompatibility, a historic one or one purely related to modern power politics? Is it something innately felt or politically imposed? Is it a product of modernity or its antithesis? Is it a function of the nation-state or its negation? This text seeks to move the study of modern sectarian dynamics beyond these analytically paralyzing dichotomies by shifting the focus away from the meaningless '-ism' towards the root: sectarian identity.