This introduction to the special section “Inter-Asian Cold War Linkages” shows how an interdisciplinary group of ten scholars take up the understudied Cold War linkages between the Middle East, on the one hand, and East and South Asia on the other. They examine how the inter-Asian lens allows us to rethink the history of the twentieth-century Middle East. Central to such rethinking is the destabilization of some of the dichotomous categories that were normalized during the Cold War and that have greatly shaped how we view culture, economy, politics, and society. These include the categories of state/nonstate, national/transnational, revolution/counterrevolution, religion/secularism, and private/public. Instead of taking these dualities for granted, the scholars here foreground the blurred and dialectical relationship between them, utilizing the Middle East as a site of critical analysis, learning, and theorizing and putting its study in conversation with the more Asia-centric and transnationally attuned literatures of the global Cold War.4 In the process, alternative genealogies and relationalities of the Middle East emerge, ones that place the Middle East in the world rather than prioritize how “the world” has acted on the Middle East, usually as a periphery or site of intervention. Doing so brings into view new ways, periodizations, and scales of studying the global Middle East in general and the Cold War in particular.

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