Choueiri, Youssef M. 1948-

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CHOUEIRI, Youssef M. 1948-

PERSONAL: Surname is pronounced "shu-way-ri"; born October 15, 1948, in Douma, Lebanon; son of Michel (in business) and Milia Youssef (Habib) Choueiri; married Amal Ali Al-Ghusayn (a biochemist), October 10, 1974; children: Tarek, Hiba.

Education: American University of Beirut, B.A., 1974; University of London, M.Sc., 1978; Cambridge University, Ph.D., 1986. Politics: Independent. Religion: Humanist.

ADDRESSES: Home—19 Feltrim Ave., Exeter EX2 4RP, England. Office—University of Exeter, Prince of Wales Rd., Exeter EX4 4JZ, England. E-mail—Y.M. [email protected]

CAREER: Cambridge University, Cambridge, England, lecturer in Arabic, 1983-86; University of Exeter, Exeter, England, lecturer in Middle Eastern history and Islamic studies, 1986-97, 1998—; writer. Reader in Middle Eastern History, University of Exeter, Exeter, England.

MEMBER: British Society for Middle Eastern Studies (fellow; member of council), Middle Eastern Studies Association of North America; fellow, Royal Historical Society, United Kingdom.


Margin and Text (in Arabic), Riad El-Rayyes Books, 1988.

Arab History and the Nation-State: A Study in Modern Arab Historiography, 1820-1980, Routledge & Kegan Paul (New York, NY), 1989.

Islamic Fundamentalism, Twayne (Boston, MA), 1990.

State and Society in Syria and Lebanon, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1994.

Islamic Fundamentalism, Pinter (Washington, DC), 1997.

Arab Nationalism—A History: Nation and State in the Arab World, Blackwell Publishers (Malden, MA), 2000.

Modern Arab Historiography, Curzon Press, Ltd. (New York, NY), 2002.

Also author of The Arab Nationalist Movement in the Twentieth Century, in press. Editor in chief, Ad-Dastour, 1979-80.

SIDELIGHTS: In an attempt to bridge the gap between East and West, Youssef M. Choueiri has written books for more than twenty years trying to explain the Arab world to Europeans and other non-Middle Eastern populations. In his writing, he explores the politics, the religion, the history, and the culture of the Arab nations.

His first book to be written in English, Arab History and the Nation State (1989) is a revised version of Choueiri's doctoral dissertation. Michael Gilsenan of the English Historical Review explained that, in this book, Choueiri is "highly critical of the historiographical writing of the modern period," especially of Arab historians who tend to incorporate "mostly European thought" into their writing. Exemplifying this comment, Mahmoud Haddad of the Journal of the American Oriental Society, quoted Choueiri as stating that "modern Arabic thought has not yet found its historian."

Also according to Haddad, Choueiri claims that many modern Arab historians share common characteristics with military officers. They both have adopted "certain Western ideas," and they have a "burning desire to reform society," as well as practice a certain "efficiency, discipline and a perceptible aloofness toward their traditional communities."

In 1994, Choueiri published his State and Society in Syria and Lebanon, in which, together with contributors, he examines the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire during World War I through the struggle for independence that these countries fought for until 1991. Some of the topics included in this book are the government policies and practices throughout this period and an attempt to define the concept of Arabism and nationalism as found in this area of the Middle East. Some of the subjects that Choueiri discusses in this book include the early-twentieth-century economy of Syria, the formation of a caste system in Greater Lebanon, and concepts of nation and state in Lebanon.

According to reviewer Laila Juma of the Web site Muslimedia (the online presence of Crescent International, a news magazine of Islam), in Arab Nationalism—A History: Nation and State in the Arab World (2000), Choueiri "traces the emergence and development of Arab nationalism rather more sympathetically than most people would." To do this, Choueiri emphasizes three distinct phases: from 1800 to 1900, what is referred to as a cultural stage; 1900 to 1945, considered an anti-imperialist phase; and 1945 to 1973, a period that saw the creation and development of a its own radical program. Choueiri believes that the Arab World is about to enter a fourth stage of development, which "he links to secular democracy and civil society."

Choueiri "provides a wealth of detail" wrote Charles Tripp for the Times Literary Supplement, based on the writing of several well-respected Arab writers. Choueiri "describes what they [Arab writers] had to say about the Arab nation and about the political programmes needed to realize its potential."

In Choueiri's 2002 publication, Modern Arab Historiography, he tightens the theme of his doctoral thesis by focusing on specific Arab historians from Egypt, Lebanon, and Morocco, and analyzing their work.

Choueiri once told CA: "I have been studying and teaching the modern history of the Arab world for at least two decades. As a Western-educated Arab scholar, I believe that I am in an ideal position to interpret the interaction between Western and Third World societies."



Choice, September 2001, Volume 39, number 1, B. Harris, Jr., review of Arab Nationalism—A History: Nation and State in the Arab World, p. 184.

English Historical Review, January 1993, Volume 108, number 426, Michael Bilsenan, review of Arab History and the Nation-State: A Study in Modern Arab Historiography, 1820-1980, p. 270.

Journal of the American Oriental Society, July-September 1992, Volume 112, number 3, Mahmoud Haddad, review of Arab History and the Nation-State: A Study in Modern Historiography, 1820-1980, pp. 530-31.

Times Literary Supplement, December 14, 2001, Charles Tripp, review of Arab Nationalism—A History, p. 29.


Muslimedia Web site, (July 22, 2002), Laila Juma, "Tracing the History (and Decline) of Arab Nationalism."