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Kennedy, Hugh (2021) 'The Emergence of New Polities in the Breakup of the Abbasid Caliphate.' In: Pohl, Walter, (ed.), Empires and Communities in the Post-Roman and Islamic World, C. 400-1000 CE. Oxford: Oxford University Press. (Oxford Studies in Early Empires)

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In this chapter, a general overview is given of the role of ethnic groups and tribes in the early Islamic world. Looking at the available source material, it appears that tribal identities and genealogies, as well as the ethnic differences that follow from these identifications, were of paramount importance to contemporary observers. The significance of tribes in internal politics and the way they are framed in literary texts, however, never allowed them to carve out a lasting dominion. The second part of the chapter addresses the more straightforwardly ethnic groups within the caliphate, principally Armenians, Kurds, and Iranians. Of these, only the Armenians developed modes of identification that were connected to their geographic situation, their brand of Christianity, and their language and script. At the other end of the spectrum, no strong common identity of the Kurds appears to have emerged in the premodern period, although there were some successful dynasties and rulers, such as Saladin, who (were) identified as Kurdish even if their empires did not. From among the multitude of possible identifications available to the populations in the early Islamic world (religious, tribal, linguistic, cultural, or urban), ethnicity thus did not have a specific impact on the constitution of states.

Item Type: Book Chapters
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > School of Languages, Cultures & Linguistics
ISBN: 9780190067946
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 19 Feb 2021 10:29

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