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No Friends but the Mountains? Comparing the Politics of State Evasion in Southeast Asia to the Middle East and North Africa
While James Scott’s theory of state evasion (The Art of Not Being Governed, 2009) contains numerous references to non-state communities in the Middle East and North Africa, the approach has not been applied systematically to the region itself. As a contribution to the theory-building on non-state politics, this paper compares the political geography of state evasion in Southeast Asia to the Middle East and North Africa. Based on case studies from Druze, Berber/Amazigh and Kurdish history, the paper discusses three differences in particular – the institutional legacy of large Islamic empires, the historical rupture of the colonial “minority policy” and the successful political mobilization of non-state communities after decolonization, especially in the case of Kurdish and Berber/Amazigh nationalism. In its conclusion, the paper discusses the research agenda of non-state politics in the Middle East and North Africa, arguing that the analysis of material practices of state evasion (physical withdrawal) should be integrated more closely with immaterial practices of state evasion (spiritual withdrawal), ranging from patterns of theological dissimulation to formally recognized enclaves of legal autonomy.
Political Science
Geographic Area
All Middle East
Sub Area