The State and Social Transformation in Tunisia and Libya, 1830-1980

Lisa Anderson, The State and Social Transformation in Tunisia and Libya, 1830-1980. Princeton University Press (1986).

Publisher’s blurb: The book traces growing state intervention in the rural areas of Tunisia and Libya in the middle 1800s and the diverging development of the two countries during the period of European rule. State formation accelerated in Tunisia under the French with the result that, with independence, interest-based policy brokerage became the principal form of political organization. For Libya, where the Italians dismantled the pre-colonial administration, independence brought with it the revival of kinship as the basis for politics.

This is one of the few books (along with this one) about Libyan history to be based on extensive research with primary sources in Libyan, Ottoman, and European archives.

The Origins of the Libyan Nation | اصول الدولة الليبية

Anna Baldinetti, The Origins of the Libyan Nation: Colonial Legacy, Exile and the Emergence of a New Nation-State (Routledge, 2010).

From the book’s abstract:

“Libya is a typical example of a colonial or external creation. This book addresses the emergence and construction of nation and nationalism, particularly among Libyan exiles in the Mediterranean region. It charts the rise of nationalism from the colonial era and shows how it developed through an external Libyan diaspora and the influence of Arab nationalism.

From 1911, following the Italian occupation, the first nucleus of Libyan nationalism formed through the activities of Libyan exiles. Through experiences undergone during periods of exile, new structures of loyalty and solidarity were formed. The new and emerging social groups were largely responsible for creating the associations that ultimately led to the formation of political parties at the eve of independence.

Exploring the influence of colonial rule and external factors on the creation of the state and national identity, this critical study not only provides a clear outline of how Libya was shaped through its borders and boundaries but also underlines the strong influence that Eastern Arab nationalism had on Libyan nationalism. An important contribution to history of Libya and nationalism, this work will be of interest to all scholars of African and Middle Eastern history.”

Documentary: Libya’s Forgotten King

Al-Jazeera English is releasing a multiple-part documentary about the political life and times of King Idris called ‘Libya’s Forgotten King‘. The episodes are available online and can be watched at AJE’s website or on Youtube (below).

In the first part of the documentary we hear from a number of local voices including historians based at the University of Benghazi, and political leaders and activists from the time of kingdom until today, such as former Prime Minister Mustafa bin Halim and Saleh al-Naeli. Historian Anna Baldinetti (who has written a book about the formation of Libya after the colonial period) was also interviewed for the documentary. Although the narration is a bit weak, including mispronunciation of names and places that could have been avoided, the documentary material gathered and interviews with Libyan historians more than make up for it. However, one has to ask, why King Idris is characterized as “forgotten”. I seriously doubt that any Libyan has forgotten him, and all scholars of Libya certainly haven’t either; so, is it only for the average Westerner that associates Libya only with what came after 1969 that Idris is “forgotten”?

Episode I

Episode II