The 2011 Arab uprisings and their aftermath have thrown into question some of the long-held assumptions about the foundational aspects of the Arab state. While the regional and international consequences of the uprisings continue to unfold with great unpredictability, their ramifications for the internal lives of the states in which they unfolded are just as dramatic and consequential. States historically viewed as models of strength and stability have been shaken to their foundations. Borders thought impenetrable have collapsed; sovereignty and territoriality have been in flux. This book examines some of the central questions facing observers and scholars of the Middle East before and after 2011 in the Arab world. The text focuses on the very nature of politics and the exercise of power in the Arab world, conceptions of the state, its functions and institutions, its sources of legitimacy, and basic notions underlying it, such as sovereignty and nationalism. Adopting a multi-disciplinary approach, Kamrava examines politics and political institutions in the Arab world from the 1950s on, tracing the travail of states, and wounds they inflicted on society and on themselves along the way, until the 2011 uprisings.