Dynastic periodization and its limits: Historiography in contemporary arab monarchies

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Over the last decades, a number of scholars have studied how historiography served to legitimize different Arab regimes. These scholars have, however, given little attention to the role of periodization. By contrast, this study suggests that periodization has been a central element of historiography in the monarchies. Many textbooks and other major works in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Jordan, and Morocco follow two broad tendencies in terms of periodization. The first tendency is to merge dynastic and national periods and to start the history of the country essentially with the rise of the contemporary ruling family. The second tendency is to integrate the contemporary dynasty into the history of a longer, sometimes perennial, monarchy. Nevertheless, official dynastic periodization has not determined all historical writing in the monarchies. Local and tribal historians often developed periodizations centered on specific cities or tribes and also imagined a much longer history than that of the contemporary dynasty.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-114
Number of pages20
JournalIslam - Zeitschrift fur Geschichte und Kultur des Islamischen Orients
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - May 2014



  • Arab world
  • Historiography
  • Legitimacy
  • Nationalism
  • Periodization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History

Cite this