Spring 2012

Author
Daniel Tavana, Duncan Pickard
Content Type
Special Report
Institution
The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
Abstract
Storytelling, in its various forms, is intrinsic to solidifying, and at times creating, collective identities. Whether it is the story of a family passed down from father to son or that of a nation fighting for its independence, the sense of sharing a collective past, present, or future brings people together. One of the greatest collections of these stories is One Thousand and One Nights, the preeminent fable passed down through generations in the Arab world, with tales woven from various Arab cities along with those of Persia and South Asia. Many modern stories are rooted in One Thousand and One Nights or take inspiration from it. While there is much debate around the history and origins of One Thousand and One Nights, it is important to note the strong connection of the lauded tales to a historical sense of identity that has endured for hundreds of years. It helps to highlight the role of storytelling in forging the identities of many peoples in the Middle East region and especially amongst Arabs who consider oration and poetry to be amongst the most distinguished of skills.
Topic
History
Political Geography
South Asia, Middle East, Persia