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UNE North Africa scholar and media commentator Ali Ahmida publishes 3rd Arabic edition of 'The Making of Modern Libya'

April 24, 2013

The populist uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East since 2011 and their aftermath have put University of New England Political Science Professor Ali Abdullatif Ahmida, Ph.D., in the national and international media spotlight.

Ahmida has been interviewed in depth by NPR's Lynn Neary on Weekend Edition, NPR's Renee Montange on Morning Edition, Charlie Rose, CBC Radio Canada, BBC Radio and numerous other media outlets for his insights into the region, especially on the regime of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi and Libya's future.

Ahmida's reputation as an important North African scholar and commentator began with the publication of his first book, The Making of Modern Libya: State Formation, Colonization, and Resistance 1830-1932, which was first published by SUNY Press in 1995.

Since then The Making of Modern Libya has seen a second expanded English edition in 2009 and, now, three editions in Arabic, the most recent, an expanded edition that has been published in April 2013 by the Center of Arab Unity Studies, Beirut Lebanon.

Although banned, the book was smuggled into Libya under the Qaddafi regime. With the populist uprising in 2011, the book is now widely available in Libya.

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, he 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.

The third Arabic edition, includes a new introduction, an afterword, and an expanded bibliography with 20 pages of new sources.

Ali Abdullatif Ahmida

Professor Ahmida, who is chair of UNE's Department of Politcal Science, was born in Libya and educated at Cairo University in Egypt and the University of Washington in Seattle. His specialty is political theory, comparative politics, and historical sociology of power, agency and anti-colonial resistance in North Africa, especially modern Libya.

His 2005 book, Forgotten Voices: Power and Agency in Colonial and Postcolonial Libya (Routledge Press), was also translated and issued in Italian and, in 2009, in Arabic by the Center of Arab Unity Studies.

Professor Ahmida is also the editor of Beyond Colonialism and Nationalism in the Maghrib: History, Culture and Politics (Palgrave, 2000). In 2009 he published Bridges Across the Sahara: Social, Economic and Cultural Impact of the Trans-Sahara Trade during the 19th and 20th Centuries (Cambridge Scholars Publishing); and Post-Orientalism: Critical Reviews in North African Social and Cultural History (published in Arabic by the Center of Arab Unity Studies).

He 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.

He has also been called upon to advise the United Nations Security Council on issues related to North Africa.

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