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What is a Terrorist? An Introduction

“Terrorist” in English texts dating from 1800 to 2008: Image via Google Books Ngram viewer

After 9/11, the word “terrorist” dramatically increased in American discourse, and yet for many—including the United States government—its definition still lacks clarity.


The Kurdish Experiment: Mandates that Made the Middle East

Arab nationalism may deserve more credit for shaping the Middle East following World War 1 than it sometime receives—especially in the case of the Kurds.


Turmoil: Syria as a French Mandate

French troops during the Franco-Syrian confict

Syria’s current strife can be traced back to 20th-century French rule, a failed experiment that ended with the ascendancy of the Assad family.


Geometric Geopolitics: How Nations Were Made from a Fallen Empire

Map of Sykes-Picot Agreement

The important lesson we can learn from the fall and partitioning of the Ottoman Empire is that it was an unprecedented moment in history in which the Middle East, under the guidance of the West, embarked on a remarkable experiment.


Crisis in Gaza: A Look to Quebecois History for Guidance

In 1763 Great Britain had won the Seven Years’ War against France. With the Treaty of Paris that followed, Britain maintained its American territories and all of Canada was surrendered by the French. This vast, newly-acquired area increased the size of British North America and the tiny island’s empire as a result. That is not to say, however, that Canada’s shift from France to Great Britain was an easy transaction.It was a precarious situation because of the social differences between the two powers.


Understanding Islam: Some Library Discussion Group-Tested Book Suggestions

Today’s news about U.S. Warplanes attacking Iraq has prompted me to dig into my files for an annotated bibliography listing the books selected by Mass Humanities for its “Understanding Islam” reading and discussion program that took place in dozens of public libraries in Massachusetts from 2002-2004.


Key Documents for Understanding the Arab-Israeli Conflict

This collection of annotated primary sources prepared by David Tebaldi was originally posted here on The Public Humanist on August 3, 2009. He also prepared this annotated list of novels and memoirs selected to further illuminate the conflict.