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Grant number like: FA-52637-06

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Sarah Shields
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Chapel Hill, NC 27599-1350)

Fellowships for University Teachers
Research Programs

$40,000 (approved)
$40,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2007 – 12/31/2007

Creating and Contesting Identities in Alexandretta

The League of Nations 1938 plebiscite to decide the status of Alexandretta assumed that separate groups of people held competing hopes for the future of their province. Having lived in a multi-ethnic empire, the population shared neither the notion of exclusionary identities nor the assumption that identity determined ideology. Syrians and Turks, competing for control over Alexandretta, exploited ambiguous identities, trying to influence the outcome by coercing residents to “become” Arabs or Turks. This study explores the processes by which exclusionary identities were created in Alexandretta, reexamines the history of nationalism in the region, and interrogates the consequences of equating ethnicity with ideology in the Middle East.