Here’s a book about the cohesion — cultural, religious, and socio-political — of the Middle East, Is There a Middle East?: The Evolution of a Geopolitical Concept (Stanford UP 2011), edited by Michael E. Bonine, Abbas Amanat, and Michael Ezekiel Gasper. Obviously the book will interest students of the political history of Islam, as well as many others. The publisher’s abstract follows. — MOD
Is the idea of the “Middle East” simply a geopolitical construct conceived by the West to serve particular strategic and economic interests—or can we identify geographical, historical, cultural, and political patterns to indicate some sort of internal coherence to this label? While the term has achieved common usage, no one studying the region has yet addressed whether this conceptualization has real meaning—and then articulated what and where the Middle East is, or is not.
This volume fills the void, offering a diverse set of voices—from political and cultural historians, to social scientists, geographers, and political economists—to debate the possible manifestations and meanings of the Middle East. At a time when geopolitical forces, social currents, and environmental concerns have brought attention to the region, this volume examines the very definition and geographic and cultural boundaries of the Middle East in an unprecedented way.