LIBYA: A History of Modern Libya/Forgotten Voices: Power and Agency in Colonial and Postcolonial Libya

By St John, Ronald Bruce | The Middle East Journal, Summer 2006 | Go to article overview

LIBYA: A History of Modern Libya/Forgotten Voices: Power and Agency in Colonial and Postcolonial Libya


St John, Ronald Bruce, The Middle East Journal


LIBYA A History of Modern Libya, by Dirk Vandewalle. Cambridge, UK and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006. xxviii + 206 pages. Maps. Notes to p. 217. Bibl. to p. 225. Index to p. 246. $75 cloth; $23.99 paper.

Forgotten Voices: Power and Agency in Colonial and Postcolonial Libya, by AIi Abdullatif Ahmida. London, UK and New York: Routledge, 2005. xvi + 85 pages. Maps. Tables. Illust. Gloss, to p. 90. Notes to p. 103. Index to p. 108. $27.95 paper.

Dirk Vandewalle is an associate professor of government at Dartmouth College. He is the author of Libya since Independence: oil and State-building and the editor of Qadhafi's Libya, 1969-1994, and he has long been recognized as one of the preeminent scholars of contemporary Libya. A History of Modern Libya, based on considerable field research, enhances Vandewalle's reputation as an informed, sensitive, and nuanced observer.

That said, the book is not what its title suggests it to be. In lieu of providing a history of modern Libya, as the author readily admits in his introduction, the book "can perhaps more accurately be described as a social and political economy study of the country" (p. 9). To be precise, it is largely an examination of the political economy of 20th century Libya with an emphasis on the post-1969 Qadhafi era. The early history of Libya, from Phoenician, Greek, and Roman times through almost four centuries of Ottoman occupation is treated in a cursory manner, and there is almost no discussion of the rich social, cultural, and intellectual history of modern-day Libya.

The core argument of the book, developed and expanded in each chapter, is that the rulers of Libya, from colonial to modern times, have avoided "the process of state-building that normally includes the steady expansion of the administrative reach of the state, as well as a growing incorporation of local citizens in that process." Even today, the author continues, "it remains problematic to consider its people truly as citizens." Despite his rhetoric, Qadhafi tends to view them more as personal subjects, doing little to create confidence in the more impersonal institutions of a modern state. "To that extent, the Qadhafi regime shows a remarkable continuity with the monarchy that preceded it," creating "a political system that will face considerable challenges in the future" (p. 1). This is a powerful thesis that Vandewalle argues well.

In the process, he adds much to our understanding of Libya, especially its political system. In one section, for example, he explores the Qadhafi regime's successful use of myths and symbols to bridge the gap between the formal political structures outlined in The Green Book and the reality of an exclusionary political system. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

LIBYA: A History of Modern Libya/Forgotten Voices: Power and Agency in Colonial and Postcolonial Libya
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.