Local Ambivalence in the Arabistan-Basra Frontier, 1881-1925
The historiography of Ottoman-Qajar frontiers emphasizes the European creation and promulgation of border control and ethnonationalism. This article considers the way that border dwellers in the Iran-Iraq frontier greeted border enforcement, nationalism, and racial politics. Despite the zeal with which local elites accepted these European ideas, the Arabs of southwestern Iran paid little attention to the policies emanating from Tehran. Europeans, in fact, noted their disinterest and argued that the concept of nationalism, borders, and race did not carry potency in Arabistan, Iran's southwestern frontier. Although historians emphasize the birth of nation-states and the decline of empires in the Middle East at turn of the twentieth century, this article considers the ambivalence with which communities in an oil-rich frontier greeted the new ideological constructions of race and borders.
British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies