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5. The Middle East and North Africa

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Chapter Summary

This chapter provides the concepts and discusses key events that shed light on the sweep of history in the Middle East and North African region. These concepts include contestation over the nature of rightful authority, competing forms of European expansion into the region, the importance of the social class of "notables" in 20th-century politics, Islamism as a social movement born of mass society, rentier states and the persistence of Arab authoritarianism, and the impact of the information revolution on the Arab Spring. The Middle East had seen many ancient and powerful civilizations prior to the rise of Islam, including those in Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Persia, but none proved as consequential to contemporary society as the one that began in Arabia in the 7th century CE. The spread of Islam through early conquests was remarkably rapid and in part to the tactics adopted by the Arab invaders.

Keywords: Arab authoritarianism; Islamic expansion; Middle Eastern society; North African region; social class

10.1163/9789004266179_058
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