The Quality of Arab Nationalism

  • C. Ernest Dawn
Part of the St Antony’s Series book series (STANTS)


An inquiry into the quality of Arab nationalism surely would have struck George Antonius as an absurd undertaking. To him, the Arab nation was a given needing no explanation.1 The givenness of nationalism was the common belief in his milieu. An eminent contemporary, the historian R. W. Seton-Watson, depicted modern Balkan history just as Antonius was later to relate Arab history.2 Antonius wrote from the perspective of an Arab with a British establishment education. By one current common historiographical standard, he rates high marks. One who does not accept this standard must nevertheless assign him considerable credit. Antonius was the first to provide in a European language an account of Arab politics undertaken in the name of Arabism that was based on authentic first-hand sources. The Arab Awakening is the starting point of virtually all Western scholarly studies of the subject; it certainly was my starting point. Although Antonius’s book narrates, usually correctly, the activities of persons who acted declaredly as members of and on behalf of the Arab nation, it does not go beyond such activities in search of information about associated activities and conditions.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    George Antonius, The Arab Awakening: the Story of the Arab National Movement (1938; rpt. Beirut: Khayats, n.d.); see esp. pp. 15–18, 27, 32, 33, 34, 54–5, 60.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Robert William Seton-Watson, The Rise of Nationality in the Balkans (London: Constable, 1917).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Liah Greenfeld, Nationalism: Five Roads to Modernity (Cambridge, Mass. and London: Harvard University Press, 1992), p. 3.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism, rev. edn (London and New York: Verso, 1991), pp. 53–6, 61–4.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Arnold J. Toynbee, The New Europe: Some Essays in Reconstruction (London and Toronto: J. M. Dent, 1915), pp. 16, 19, 20, 37, 51–2, 56, 61, 62, 63; Hans Kohn, The Idea of Nationalism: a Study in its Origins and Background (New York: Macmillan, 1944), pp. 15–16, 20, 22; Anderson, pp. 9–10, 81–2, 141–4; Greenfeld, pp. 3, 7, 8, 10, 22–3; J. Dover Wilson, ‘The National Idea in Europe’, in R. W. Seton-Watson et al., The War and Democracy (London: Macmillan, 1915), pp. 19–22, 28, 31, 37.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    U.S. Department of State Bulletin, 22 (1950), 112–13, 272–4, 467, 468, 471, 472, 698, 1038.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Muhammad Hasanayn Haykal [Mohamed Heikal], 1967—al-Infijar (Cairo: al-Ahram, 1990), pp. 410, 412.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. Ernest Dawn

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations