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North African scholar Ali Ahmida publishes 2nd edition of book on roots of modern Libya

posted Jun 3, 2010, 11:37 AM by rbuhr@une.edu

Ali Abdullatif Ahmida, Ph.D., professor and chair of the University of New England's Political Science Department, provides a provocative study analyzing the social, cultural, and historical roots of modern Libya in the second edition of his book, The Making of Modern Libya:  State Formation, Colonization, and Resistance, Second Edition  (State University of New York Press).

The Making of Modern Libya is a thorough examination of the social, cultural, and historical background of modern Libya.  Ahmida examines the reaction of the ordinary Libyan people to colonialism and nationalism, from the early nineteenth century through the end of anticolonial resistance, to the rise of the modern Libyan state in 1951.

Weaving together insights drawn from Arabic, French, English, and Italian sources, Ahmida challenges Eurocentric theories of social change that ignore the internal dynamics of native social history.

Among other things, he shows that Sufi Islam, tribal military organization, and oral traditions were crucial in the fight against colonialism. The political and cultural legacy of the resistance has been powerful, strengthening Libyan nationalism and leading to the revival of strong attachments to Islam.

The memory of this period has not yet faded, and appreciation of this background is essential to understanding modern Libya. This new edition also investigates Libya’s postcolonial nationalist policies, bringing the argument up to the present.

Ahmida, an internationally recognized scholar of North African history and politics, is the Ludcke Chair of Liberal Arts and Sciences, presented annually to a tenured member of the faculty of the UNE College of Arts and Sciences in recognition of their outstanding academic accomplishments. 

Professor Ahmida has received many other academic grants and awards, such as the Social Science Research Council National Grant Award, the Shahade Award, and the Kenneally Cup Award in 2003 for distinguished academic service at University of New England.

He is the editor of Beyond Colonialism and Nationalism in the Maghrib: History, Culture and Politics, published by Palgrave Press in 2000. He has also recently published in arabic Post-Orientalism: Critical Reviews in North African Social and Cultural History (Center of Arab Unity Studies, Beirut, Lebanon 2009).

Ahmida has lectured in a variety of U.S., Canadian, European and African Universities and colleges, and has contributed several book reviews, articles and chapters to books on the African state, identity and alienation, class and state formation in modern Libya.