Lorenzo Kamel, The Middle East from Empire to Sealed Identities, Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Press, 2019.
Explores how conceptions of identity were historically constructed in the Middle East under the influence of imperial powers.
This compelling analysis of the modern Middle East – based on research in 19 archives and numerous languages – shows the transition from an internal history characterised by local realities that were plural and multidimensional, and where identities were flexible and hybrid, to a simplified history largely imagined and imposed by external actors. The author demonstrates how the once-heterogeneous identities of Middle Eastern peoples were sealed into a standardised and uniform version that persists to this day. He also sheds light on the efforts that peoples in the region – in the context of a new process of homogenisation of diversities – are exerting in order to get back into history, regaining possession of their multifaceted pasts.