It is necessary to study the old and modern models of identity formation of the “political subject” in Middle and Near East, and to identify the role of these models in the formulation of collective memory. These identities are often characterized by uncertainty and ambiguity and overlap (Arab, Palestinian, Kurdish, Turkish, Persian, Jewish, Shia, Sunni, etc.).

The modalities of the formation of some of these identities (religious, linguistic, national, regional, etc.) experience interdependent and / or separate evolutions in the historical time-space.
It is necessary to examine the different internal contexts in which these identities evolve, their forms of empowerment, separation, reformulation.

We propose the hypothesis of the interdependence of these identities in diversity-specificity.

Here we privilege a critical approach to the current tendencies of politicization of these identities, which are based on constructed contradictions and differences that separate long inter-mixed identities (the Turkish-Ottoman Hegemonic States and Persian-Safavid Identities-Empires-States have never succeeded in homogenizing peoples under their rule).

On the one hand, it is a question of questioning certain dominant concepts by adopting the point of view of the “Peoples-Without-States” living at the intersection of the existing states, at the crossroads of the borders and the margins of the politically and culturally identifiable centers.

It is then a question of replacing the paradigm “Nation-National” often placed in the center by the paradigms of the plurality of “Peoples”.
This displacement mobilizes the intellectual, artistic, literary exchanges, etc. which operate through the so-called “soft” and inter-penetrable barriers (and modifies the direction of the movements of the translation).

From then on, it becomes possible to rethink a series of concepts such as borders, exile, diaspora, displacement, unity and sovereignty, and to propose alternative categories such as hospitality, solidarity and living together in a post-national political system.

Specific identities, in a political system favoring an open citizen-identity as the major expression of the free-individual, in no way encumber the harmony and civil peace necessary for living together.

We need to examine the motives that create “the Other” according to nationalist ideologies as the “disruptive” of established collective identities.
We argue that these mutual identity “troubles” must be a field of study, both scientifically and in social and political practices.

On the other hand, it is necessary to integrate historical and contemporary points of view, and thus to enlighten the way in which the present is also the product of its past.

Emphasis must be placed on this dual movement of present-past time in the production of models of identities through shifts in space-time: a perpetual movement between different groups, especially across open geographic spaces not subject to state powers in certain cases and / or despite these state restrictions in other cases.

These are critical approaches that will make it possible to overcome the rigidity of the old “state” and “nationalist” academic and political concepts dominated by colonial prejudices, by claims of “racial” supremacy, in order to open the field of ideas for decolonized and desetatical critical reflection.

Notes gathered by Naji El Khatib, June 2017.

Categories: Discussion notes