Introduction to themed section on ‘Belonging to Syria. National identifications before and after 2011’

Kathrin Bachleitner*, Toby Matthiesen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The five papers in this themed section seek to explain national identifications with Syria using diverse methods and focusing on various state and societal actors before and after 2011. Each contribution engages with the distinction of national identities into their ‘ethnic/primordial’ and ‘civic/constructed’ elements and examines their meaning within Syria in different times and contexts. Since its independence in 1946, Syria experienced strong tensions between sub- and supra-state identities and experimented with diverse territorial nationalisms in their pan-Arab and specifically Syrian forms. Through a distinctive mix of ethnic Arab and civic ideological elements, they helped to forge unity among a multiplicity of ethnicities, tribes and sects living on the Syrian territory and thus were moulded in tandem with the interests of those in power.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)117-124
Number of pages8
JournalNations and Nationalism
Issue number1
Early online date14 Dec 2021
Publication statusPublished - 23 Feb 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This themed section developed out of a collaboration that started in a workshop hosted by Dr Kathrin Bachleitner at the University of Oxford (Lady Margaret Hall) on 29th November 2019 to discuss “Identities in Times of Conflict and Displacement. The Case of Syria”. The authors would like to thank Jennifer Todd, Kalypso Nicolaïdis, Felix Berenskoetter and Stathis Kalyvas for helping to frame the conceptual debate during the workshop and the IKEA Foundation for generously supporting this research.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Association for the Study of Ethnicity and Nationalism and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


  • civic nationalism
  • ethnic conflict
  • nationhood/national identity


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