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What is Syrian Nationalism?: Primordialism and Romanticism in Official Baath Discourse

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

Forthcoming
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>10/04/2021
<mark>Journal</mark>Nations and Nationalism
Publication StatusAccepted/In press
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Abstract

This article addresses the evolution of Syrian nationalism, showing how the early pan-Arabist ideals of the Baathist founders morphed into a cult of personality focused narrowly on emotional attachments to the regime. Current Syrian state nationalism is a “constructed primordialism” consisting of vague and sentimental concepts of the Syrian people and their history, despite the fact that the Syrian state in its current territorial identity has only existed for a few decades and incorporates a diverse mosaic of ethnic, cultural, religious, and national backgrounds. In the absence of a cohesive pre-existing community to form the basis of Syrian national identity, the regime tempered its nominal commitment to Arabism with heavily Romanticized rhetoric emphasizing familial bonds of love and devotion between the people and the leader. This primordialist construct has thwarted the emergence of a civic-oriented national identity in Syria and contributed to tensions underlying the current civil war.