since the (formal) retreat of Western empires.
As Sadeq al-Azm has noted, the Arabs and Muslims, viewing themselves as a historically great nation and bearers of God’s true religion, find it hard to accept their domination by the West ( Arab Studies Quarterly , 19:3, 1997, 124). As such, external intervention and its often damaging consequences has stimulated an on-going reaction manifested in nationalist and Islamic movements, in the rise of revisionist states, and in the attempts of regional states to assert autonomy and to restructure
tribes, peoples, notably the Arabs, lacked the defined sense of territorial identity and attachment to the land associated with peasant societies. The important exceptions, those societies with substantial peasantries – Turkey, Iran and Egypt – are those where contemporary states most closely approximate national states.
Aggravating the situation was the way the contemporary states system was imposed at the expense of a pre-existing cultural unity deriving from centuries of rule by extensive empires ruling in the name of the Islamic umma . Where
main challenges to the bellicist account is its Eurocentric narrative,
which has an ethical and a methodological dimension. The experience of African
state formation has particular specificities marked by the experience of slavery
and colonisation. As Makau Mutua notes (2001), this experience configures
different a state–subjects relation to that of Western states, which is based on
struggles embedded in the processes of industrialisation and the rise of the
The bellicist account’s ‘elision of empire’ has been the target of critiques
(Carvalho, Leira and
divisions created by the Belgians were imposed, generating resistance and conflict not only towards the Belgians but also towards those seen as their allies
(Kankwenda 2005: 282–4). Pre-existing identities were not fixed. They had as
much to do with parental ties and birth locations as with different social networks such as religious, mystical, political and economic. These changed simultaneously, depending on whether or not they had been subjected to a kingdom
or an empire (e.g., Rwanda and Buganda kingdoms or the Kongo, Luba and
Lunda empires) and whether or not they
inevitably shaped its conception of this interest, which evolved over a century from a radical modernising to a conservative one.
The military became a key actor in defensive modernisation from the beginning of Ottoman reform when the defence of the empire became inseparable from its rapid modernisation against the resistance of ‘traditional forces’. The military was a key support for modernising ministers and, when reform failed to ward off external threats, it became a vehicle for a more radical revolution from above under Ataturk which preserved