The Middle East - A Proposition Regarding the Method of Its Delimitation

Jan Byczkowski


While the term “Middle East” is in general use, its meaning remains flexible and dependent on one’s imagination and agenda. The only systematic criticism of such a state of affairs seems to come from social scientists who discard the concept of the Middle East altogether, assuming it to be primarily driven by a (sub)conscious orientalism of the users. At the same time, no significant attempts have been done by social scientists who think that this term is of value in describing the political, social, cultural or economic reality. This article aims at filling this literature gap by proposing an experimental method of demarcating the Middle East via combining a number of historical, cultural, political, and economic factors. Hopefully, it will start a debate on what is the Middle East – which would not necessarily lead to discarding the concept altogether since, rather than leading to a practical solution, such a decision would result in a void with currently nothing to fill it. Before taking on this task, the first two parts of the article will be devoted to the history of “the Middle East” as a concept, as well as the problematic issue of region demarcation in general.


Middle East; MENA; Political Geography; Regional Delimitation; Geopolitics; Middle Eastern Studies

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New Middle Eastern Studies

ISSN: 2051-0861