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Title: Shi'ism, politics, and identity in Bahrain
Authors: Tan, Feng Qin
Keywords: DRNTU::Social sciences::Political science
Issue Date: 2017
Abstract: Sectarian identity in the Middle East has appeared ascendant, seemingly serving as the basis of intractable, even violent conflict. A 'naive' view of identity sees it as straightforwardly and deterministically causative, but if so the 2011 Pearl Uprising in Bahrain appears a paradox - a primarily secular episode of political contestation in a country with a Shi'a majority, against a Sunni dominated regime, in a political realm with a Shi'a Islamist-dominated opposition. Using the analytical tools of Social Movement Theory, this paper conducts a close analysis of political contestation in Bahrain between 1994 and 2011, and argues that Shi'a identity, as ideational structure, and Shi'a political actors, as agents, are mutually constitutive, acting on and changing one another, to sometimes surprising results. History, local understandings and prevailing political opportunities and threats, themselves the results of previous episodes of contestation amongst political actors and regimes, set the stage for how Shi'a-specific ideational resources, and mobilising agents and structures, are or are not fruitfully utilised as frames of collective action, repertories of contention, or in the mobilisation of contestation, transforming politics and self-understandings in the process. The creative and nuanced engagement and understandings of Shi' a identity by Shi'a political actors in Bahrain undermines the naive view of identity, with implications for the study of strategic culture
Fulltext Permission: restricted
Fulltext Availability: With Fulltext
Appears in Collections:RSIS Theses

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