In Saudi Arabia, the project of nation-building was troubled from its first days as the Al-Saud rulers struggled to construct a nation out of the fragments, mainly the pervasive sub-national identities that dominated Arabia or the supra-national Islamic identity that the regime promoted to achieve legitimacy. But since the rise of Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman in 2017, a new populist Saudi nationalism is promoted.
This lecture traces the shift in Saudi nation-building from the early days of religious nationalism to the current populist trend. It will explain why only recently constructing a Saudi nation became a priority for the leadership after almost a century of creating a state. The new Saudi national narrative inevitably involves selectively remembering and forgetting aspects of the past in order to consolidate a shift in national consciousness about who Saudis are. But while the new nationalism promises to invigorate the nation, the process is accompanied by serious violence against dissenting voices.
Meet our speaker and chair
Madawi Al-Rasheed (@MadawiDr) is Visiting Professor at the LSE Middle East Centre. Since joining the MEC, Madawi has been conducting research on mutations among Saudi Islamists after the 2011 Arab uprisings. This research focuses on the new reinterpretations of Islamic texts prevalent among a small minority of Saudi reformers and the activism in the pursuit of democratic governance and civil society. She regularly contributes to international television and print media.
Jeffrey Chwieroth (@jmchwieroth) is Head of the Department of International Relations and Professor of International Political Economy in the Department of International Relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science.
More about this event
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This event is the Fred Halliday Memorial Lecture.
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Twitter Hashtag for this event: #LSESaudiNationalism
Podcast & Video
A podcast of this event is available to download from The perils of Saudi nationalism.
A video of this event is available to watch at The perils of Saudi nationalism.
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