Arab Political Thought

Past and Present

Georges Corm

Explores the many facets of Arab political thought from the nineteenth century to the present day.

Published in Association with the Aga Khan University Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations (AKU-ISMC)

Bibliographic Details
Arab Political Thought Hardback
December 2019£35.00
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This book demonstrates the vitality of Arab political thought and its major controversies. It shows that the key players involved, far from being constrained by a theological-political straitjacket, have often demonstrated strong critical thinking when tackling religion and philosophy, anthropology and politics.

Setting these thinkers and their works within two centuries of upheaval in the Arab world, Georges Corm demonstrates how Arab critical thought has been marginalised by powerful external forces: the military, the academy and the media. In its place has risen a hegemonic Islamist thought, used cannily by certain Arab regimes and their Western protectors. Closely tracing the successive transformations of modernist Arab nationalism, Arab Political Thought offers a blueprint for understanding the libertarian Arab Spring, as well as the counter-revolutions and external interventions that have followed.

This invaluable guide comprehensively distils the complexity of Arab intellectualism, which is both critical and profane, and a far cry from the outdated politico-religious image it has acquired.


Georges Corm is Professor at the Institute of Political Sciences at Saint-Joseph University in Beirut, Lebanon. He was formerly a public-sector economist and  an international economic consultant. Between 1998 and 2000 he was Lebanese Minister of Finance. He has published extensively on the contemporary history of the Middle East and relations between the Arab world and the West.


‘Not since Albert Hourani’s Arabic Thought in the Liberal Age has there been such a comprehensive and accessible monograph as Georges Corm’s erudite account. Focussing on twentieth-century Arabic and French literature, this is a welcome update written by a leading Arab intellectual and economist.’ Jens Hanssen, Associate Professor of Arab Civilisation, Department of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, University of Toronto

‘An invaluable account of the intellectual currents within the Arab world and beyond, bringing this rich and seminal scholarship closer to us here in the West. Indispensable for those interested in the politics of the region and its underlying fabric of ideas.’ Arshin Adib-Moghaddam, Professor in Global Thought and Comparative Philosophies at SOAS, University of London, and author of On the Arab Revolts and the Iranian Revolution and A Metahistory of the Clash of Civilisations.

‘An overview of the richness and complexity of Arab thought, deconstructing the dominant narratives that reduce the Arab peoples to vacuous, religious and ahistorical binaries. A must-read.’ Fawaz A. Gerges, a Professor of International Relations, London School of Economics