Will Kymlicka

edited-volumes: cover

Multiculturalism and Minority Rights in the Arab World

Edited by Will Kymlicka and Eva Pföstl, (Oxford University Press, 2014), 295 pp.


Since the Arab Spring, Arab states have become the new front line in the struggle for democratization and for open societies. As the experience of other regions has shown, one of the most significant challenges facing democratization relates to minority rights. This book explores how minority claims are framed and debated in the region, and in particular, how political actors draw upon, re-interpret or resist both the new global discourses of minority rights and more local traditions and practices of co-existence. The contributors examine a range of pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial factors that shape contemporary minority politics in the Arab world, and that encumber the reception of international norms of multiculturalism. These factors include the contested legacies of Islamic doctrines of thedhimmi' and the Ottoman millet system, colonial-era divide and rule strategies, and post-colonial Arab nation-building. While these legacies complicate struggles for minority rights, they do not entail an 'Arab exceptionalism' to global trends to multiculturalism. This volume explores a number of openings for new more pluralistic conceptions of nationhood and citizenship, and suggests that minority politics at its best can serve as a vehicle for a more general transformative politics, supporting a broader culture of democracy and human rights, and challenging older authoritarian, clientalistic or patriarchal political tendencies. The chapters include both broad theoretical and historical perspectives as well as more focused case studies (including Western Sahara/Morocco, Algeria, Israel/Palestine; Sudan; United Arab Emirates and Iraq).

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
    • Chapter 1: Will Kymlicka and Eva Pföstl, "Introduction"
  • Part I: Theoretical and Historical Perspectives
    • Chapter 2: Janet Klein, "The Minority Question: A View from History and the Kurdish Periphery"
    • Chapter 3: Joshua Castellino and Kathleen Cavanaugh, "Transformations in the Middle East: The importance of the Minority Question"
    • Chapter 4: Zaid Eyadat, "Minorities in the Arab World: Faults, Fault-lines and Co-existence"
    • Chapter 5: Francesca Maria Corrao and Sebastiano Maffettone, "Arab Minorities, Liberalism and Multiculturalism"
  • Part II: Case Studies
    • Chapter 6: Jacob Mundy, "Bringing the tribe back in? The Western Sahara Dispute, Ethno-history, and the Imagineering of Minority Conflicts in the Arab World"
    • Chapter 7: Eva Pföstl, "The Role of the Amazigh Movement in the Processes of Political Reform in Postcolonial Algerian Society"
    • Chapter 8: Nicholas McGeehan, "The Gulf's Servant Class"
    • Chapter 9: Hassan Jabareen, "Hobbesian Citizenship: How the Palestinians Became a Minority in Israel"
    • Chapter 10: Brendan O'Leary, "The Federalization of Iraq and the Break-Up of Sudan"
    • Chapter 11: Joseph Yacoub, "How Does the Arab World Perceive Multiculturalism and Treat its Minorities? The Assyro-Chaldeans of Iraq as a Case Study"