Circassians in the Age of Nation-States: Stateless Entities, Banal Nationalism in the Pan-Islamism, Pan-Arabism and Territorial Nationalism in the Middle East, by Nour Abu Assab

Circassians in the Age of Nation-States: Stateless Entities, Banal Nationalism in the Pan-Islamism, Pan-Arabism and Territorial Nationalism in the Middle East

A Case Study of Circassians in Jordan

Nour Abu Assab - MERC - Middle East Research Competition, July 2007

Research Background: Theoretical Revelance and Literature Review

The Context and the Literature

The Middle East's heterogeneity, like many other regions in the world, is derived from the existence of various ethnic, national, religious groups and sects, and ''much of the troubles facing this region revolve around the treatment ormistreatment of its minority population.'' (Kumaraswamy, 2003: 244). However, because of the religious nature and history of the Middle East, it conrains many ethnic groups which maintained their cultural heritage and uniqueness. Circassians are one of the those groups who migrated from Circassia, which is a historic region that encircled approximately the whole area between the Black Sea, the Kuban River, and the Caucasus, and resided in Turkey, Syria, Israel, Iraq and Jordan.

Circassians are almost forgotten, because one cannot find a country, a place or a state called Circassia in maps of the contemporary world. The Circassians are Muslims, who are called Cherkess in Russian and their native term is Adygey.

Circassians were Christianised in the Age of Byzantine during the fifth and sixth centuries. however, they all adopted Islam to become part of the Ottoman Empire to defeat the Russian Armies. In 1829 the Ottoman Turks had to give up Circassia to Russia. At this time the Circassians occupied almost the entire area between the main Caucasian range, the Kuban River, and the Black Sea. After the Russian invasion of the area, about 400,000 Circassians migrated to Turkey (1861-64). Today there are large Circassian groups in Turkey, Syria, and Jordan (For Historical Background See, Shenfield, 1999).

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