Letters and declarations
in Houses built on sand

Across a century of contestation, this chapter engages with processes of transformation, often – although not necessarily – violent, driven by actors both within and beyond territorial borders. In many cases, such transformations were revolutionary, violent dislocations between past and future that radically altered the cultural landscape of a particular area. Yet such transformations also possess an economic dimension as foreign powers sought to capitalise on opportunities provided by domestic upheaval, while political elites began processes of modernisation as they sought to forge contemporary states from the embers of uncertainty.

This chapter offers a genealogy of states in the region from the mandate period until the demise of Da’ish in the summer of 2018. It focuses upon five distinct eras, allowing for exploration of the interaction of regional trends with domestic factors in the creation of political projects.

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Houses built on sand

Sovereignty, violence and revolution in the Middle East

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