Yusuf’s Dilemma: The Middle East and Identity Politics between the Two World Wars


ACLS Fellowship Program



Named Award

ACLS/NEH International and Area Studies Fellow named award


Between World War I and World War II, territories formerly part of the defeated Ottoman Empire struggled to come to terms with new borders and novel forms of political legitimacy. This project examines four interwar episodes in which external forces intervened in the region to resolve territorial conflicts. In an era of “self-determination of peoples,” the League of Nations insisted on a certain definition of “peoples” that privileged “national” groups when allocating disputed lands. Despite its frustrated recognition that local populations did not make political choices based solely on essentialist identities, the League introduced and institutionalized a new politics of identity whose consequences continue to be evident throughout the Middle East.