Scholarly accounts of republicanism often focus on Europe, and to a smaller extent, on the Atlantic world, generally excluding Afro-Asian liberation struggles. When it comes to the Arab world, political and intellectual histories are most commonly narrated through the prisms of modernity, state, nation, class, and religion. They could, as this talk hopes to show, also be re-narrated in terms of a persistent, if often unsuccessful, quest for achieving the cardinal republican principle of popular sovereignty. This was certainly the case for the rolling years of the 1950s and 1960s, the period when this quest achieved its amplest flowering. Without an appreciation of republicanism, our understanding of those decades would be deficient. Monarchies were overthrown in Egypt, Iraq, Tunisia, North Yemen, South Yemen, and Libya; elite governance formulas were challenged in Syria and Lebanon; popular movements confronted ruling dynasties, and intellectual currents associated with them asserted alternative visions of political justice and liberty everywhere else. What was the place of radical republicanism in these political events, currents, and movements? How can this hidden political tradition be retrieved in contemporary scholarship? What are the implications of such a retrieval? These are some of the questions asked in this talk.
Abdel Razzaq Takriti is associate professor of history and the inaugural holder of the Arab-American Educational Foundation Chair in Modern Arab History at the University of Houston. His research focuses on the history of revolutions, anticolonialism, global intellectual currents, and state-building in the modern Arab world. His book Monsoon Revolution: Republicans, Sultans, and Empires in Oman, 1965-1976 explored the history of the Dhufar Revolution in Oman, which was the longest running major armed struggle in the history of the Arabian Peninsula, Britain's last classic colonial war in the region, and one of the highlights of the Cold War in the Middle East.