Arab Nationalism and State Formation: the Maghrib Experiences
Published in March 2019
This paper reviews studies on modern Arab nationalism with a special focus on case studies of Maghribian countries (i.e., Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco). As the majority of studies concerning Arab nationalism published in English have been built on Mashriqian historical cases, Arab nationalism has been understood as having a secular, supra-state identity as opposed to a religious identity (e.g., Muslim identity) on the one hand, and territorial nationalism based on loyalty to individual nation-states (e.g., Egyptian, Syrian, Iraqi, and Palestinian nationalism) on the other hand. However, Maghribian experiences provide us with more complex realities regarding the history of Arab nationalism. Studying Arab nationalism with particular attention to long-ignored regional features allows us to understand different variations of the Arab nationalist movement, which should be considered as a multiform, multifunctional, and globally interactive phenomenon.
This paper studies the demography of Tunisia in the early 20th century using population censuses and statistics published in the French protectorate era (1881–1956) as preliminary research on regional inequalities in Tunisia. Regional inequalities, especially imbalanced development and the privileges of those in the coastal area, are one of the greatest challenges of the country. Many studies have focused on regional inequality since Tunisia’s independence. Most conclude the main cause was development policies, but the origins of regional inequalities remain ambiguous. When, where, and how were these inequalities created, developed, and changed? The population censuses show that distribution was relatively balanced in the early protectorate era, but this changed gradually as people began to concentrate in and around the capital, Tunis. Particularly in the 1930s, the demography of Tunisia changed swiftly; therefore, observing the regional population patterns of that era serves as key material for understanding the origin of regional inequalities in Tunisia.