A cartoon from “The Daily Express”, 27.09.1922, just a few days after the Great Fire of Smyrna and one month before the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire
The current conflicts and humanitarian crisis in states like Syria and Iraq have raised the question of a dissolving political order in the Middle East. This episode describes the evolution of this term since World War One and its interplay with shifting hierarchies of power that involve both regional and external actors. Since the invasion of Iraq in 2003, formerly hegemonic Western powers have proven increasingly incapable of preserving the cornerstone of the idea of the Middle East: A strategically controlled distance of the potential conflicts in the region and their consequences from Europe. The formation of the Islamic State, the re-emergence of the Kurdish question, and the ambiguous role played by Turkey are some of the elements which question the order established after WWI. The episode invites to a debate on the epistemological redefinition of the Middle East based on the alternative notion of Near East, which could consequently impact on how Southeast Europe is perceived and imagined.
Maurus Reinkowski is Professor of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies at the Department of Social Sciences at the University of Basel, Switzerland. His publications include studies on the Late Ottoman Empire and the Eastern Mediterranean, state institutions and reform processes, and relations between the (post-)Ottoman world and Europe.
To cite this episode: Reinkoswki, Maurus; Guidi, Andreas (2016): The return of the Near East? A perspective on the Arab World, Turkey, and Southeast Europe, The Southeast Passage #013, 22.12.2016, http://thesoutheastpassage.com/podcast/reinkowski-near-east-arab-world-turkey-southeast-europe
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