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Title: Historiography and politics : twentieth-century Arab scholarship on Antiquity
Author: Maghdid, Botan Tofiq
ISNI:       0000 0004 7228 7100
Awarding Body: University of Leicester
Current Institution: University of Leicester
Date of Award: 2018
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This thesis examines the various ways in which ancient Arab history has been represented in modern Arab historiography in the twentieth century, from the end of the Ottoman Empire to the end of the Baʿthist regime of Iraq. It is now widely recognised that historiography is influenced by contemporary politics. Over the last few decades, theories about the relationship between politics and historiography have been advanced by Western-based scholars such as Gramsci, Foucault, and Said. It remains unclear, however, whether non-Western traditions of historiography have the same kinds of relationships with politics, or whether politics in historiography in the Arab world exist in a different configuration. To explore this issue, I will address historiographical writing produced in the Arab world during the twentieth century, considering in particular the case of Iraq. It will focus on writing that addressed a specific period of antiquity – the 1st century BCE to the 7th century CE. It is in this period of antiquity that we can first identify a specifically Arab struggle for the statehood, and the coalescing of Arab-dominated states in the Mesopotamian region. This period was therefore one of particular interest for Arab historians writing in the twentieth century, a time when Arab statehood and the nature of the Iraqi state was debated. This thesis will show that in the modern Arab world, history writing and politics have become more entangled than ever. Following the end of the Ottoman Empire and the creation of the Iraqi state, the need for a sufficient justification for this artificial construction became crucial. Iraqi historiography, then, looked to the past to formulate new narratives, lending legitimacy to current social and political initiatives. Historiography became intimately entwined in the political agendas of Iraqi regimes, from the Monarchy up to the Baʿthist period. Finally, I argue that without a serious intellectual debate on epistemology of “knowledge” and what its relationship with political power could be, the problem brought on by their 20th century structures have continued to dominate present socio-political developments. In addition, the future Arab world relationships with worldwide communities depend on the re-structuring of this history-politics relationship.
Supervisor: James, Simon ; Mac Sweeney, Naoise Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available