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Author: Reyhan Durmaz


Identity Puzzles, Identity and Christian-Muslim Interaction, Redefining Christian Identity … These titles are only three examples of a growing corpus of scholarship that asks the question, “How did Syriac-speaking Christians in the Near East perceive and present their communities?” Some scholars approach this question from the angle of theological distinctions between Syriac Christian groups, while others look into the power structures and discursive negotiations between Christian and other communities in the Near East. As our understanding of Syriac communities in the pre-modern Near East is further nuanced, contemporary religious and national identities shape the scholarship in new ways. This article summarizes the major theories brought to bear on the study of “Syriac identity” in premodern and modern era in the past twenty years. By mapping the field, I aim to demonstrate how the academic study of identity in Syriac communities have been underpinned by the question of the so-called East-West divide.

In: Method & Theory in the Study of Religion