Muslim-Christian relations in Palestine during the British mandate period
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My dissertation examines Muslim-Christian relations in Palestine during the British mandate period, specifically, around the question of what constituted Palestinian-Arab identity. More broadly speaking, the dissertation addresses the topic within the context of the larger debate concerning the role of material factors (those related to specific historical developments and circumstances) versus that of ideological ones. in determining national identities. At the beginning of the twentieth, century, two models of Arab nationalism were proposed-a more secular one emphasising a shared language and culture (and thus, relatively inclusive of non-Muslims) and one wherein Arab identity was seen as essentially an extension of the Islamic religious community, or umma. While many historians dealing with Arab nationalism have tended to focus on the role of language (likewise, the role of Christian Arab intellectuals), I would maintain that it is the latter model that proved determinative of how most Muslim Arabs came to conceive of their identity as Arabs. Both models were essentially intellectual constructs; that the latter prevailed in the end reflects the predominance of material factors over ideological ones. Specifically, I consider the impact of social, political and economic changes related to the Tanzimat reforms and European economic penetration of the nineteenth century; the role of proto-nationalist models of communal identification-particularly those related to religion; and finally, the role played by political actors seeking to gain or consolidate authority through the manipulation of proto-nationalist symbols.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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