Since the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the ‘Arab Spring’ of 2011 and Syria’s descent into civil war, there has been an upsurge in the number of publications that have sought to explain the spread of political mobilisation, justified through sectarian rhetoric, across the contemporary Middle East. A great deal of this work is highly descriptive in its approach. That which references a wider social science literature does so from within debates on nationalism and ethnicity, reproducing the tripartite division between Ethnosymbolism, Instrumentalism and varying degrees and varieties of Social Constructivism. However, this new work, beyond brief references, does not engage in a sustained way with the much wider, diverse and flourishing debates within social science / social theory on the politics of identity.

On 29 June 2018, the Middle East Centre organised a workshop bringing together a group of leading academics working on sectarianism, mobilisation and political identity in the Middle East. It deliberately mixed both young scholars and established academics, to critically interact with the existing literature on sectarian mobilisation in the contemporary Middle East. Below is a selection of memos written by workshop participants:

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