Beyond Sunni and Shia

The Roots of Sectarianism in a Changing Middle East

Sectarianism has become an urgently important, but often misunderstood, feature of politics in the Middle East. Beyond Sunni and Shia brings together an outstanding and diverse group of scholars who grapple with sectarian conflict across the region. These rigorous and deeply researched essays show how the complex interplay of politics, ideas and technology at a time of rapid change has driven dangerous new identity politics

Beyond Sunni and Shia seeks to advance our understanding of intra-Islamic identity conflict in the Middle East. Instead of treating distinctions between and within Sunni and Shia Islam as primordial and immutable, it examines how political economy, geopolitics, domestic governance, social media, non- and sub-state groups, and clerical elites have affected the transformation and diffusion of sectarian identities.

Attention is paid to how conflicts over distribution of political and economic power have taken on a sectarian quality, and how a variety of actors have instrumentalised sectarianism. The volume, covering Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf, Iran, and Egypt, includes contributors from a broad array of disciplines including political science, history, sociology, and Islamic studies.

Beyond Sunni and Shia draws on extensive fieldwork and primary sources to offer insights that are empirically rich and theoretically grounded, but also accessible for policy audiences and the informed public.


Frederic Wehrey is a senior fellow in the Middle East Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He is the author of Sectarian Politics in the Gulf: From the Iraq War to the Arab Uprisings (2013), chosen as a Best Book on the Middle East by Foreign Affairs magazine. He holds a DPhil in International Relations from Oxford University

Table of Contents

Introduction — Frederic Wehrey
1. Beyond Sectarianism in the Middle East? Comparative Perspectives on Group Conflict — Paul Dixon

2. The Sectarianism of the Islamic State: Ideological Roots and Political Context — Hassan Hassan
3. The Sectarianization of the Syrian War — Heiko Wimmen
4. Sectarianism and Iranian Foreign Policy — Afshon Ostovar

5. Shia-centric State-building in Post-2003 Iraq — Fanar Haddad
6. The Unraveling of Taif: The Limits of Sect-based Power-sharing in Lebanon — Joseph Bahout
7. Twitter Wars: Sunni-Shia Conflict and Cooperation in the Digital Age — Alexandra Siegel
8. The Political Economy of Sectarianism: How Gulf Regimes Exploit Identity Politics as a Survival Strategy — Justin Gengler
9. The Roots of Sectarian Law and Order in the Gulf: Bahrain, the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, and the Two Historical Disruptions — Staci Strobl

10. The Kingdom and the Caliphate: Saudi Arabia and the Islamic State — Cole Bunzel
11. Sectarianism and Political Pragmatism: The Paradox of Egypt’s al-Nour Salafis —Stéphane Lacroix
12. Religious Authority and Sectarianism in Lebanon — Alexander D.M. Henley

€ 27,00 / Paperback / November 2017 / 9781849048149 / 352pp

Order Beyond Sunni and Shia here


Foto: Brooklyn Museum – Battle of Karbala – Abbas Al-Musavi

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