Examines major socio-economic and political themes in the Middle East from colonialism to the present. Topics may include: emergence of republics/monarchies, gender and patriarch in the Middle East, Arab Nationalism, Palestinian-Israeli conflict, politics of oil, and political Islam.
This course offers an introduction to the politics and social history of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). To begin with, the course offers a critical appraisal of the ways of imagining, thinking and learning about the region that have been common in the West. It continues with a historical overview of Islam and the politics of the region. Finally, it offers an in-depth examination of a number of issues experienced by the people of MENA. These include problems associated with economic development and democratization, human rights, international conflict and war, Islam and politics, the status of women and United States foreign policy towards the region. At the end, it is hoped that students will acquire the analytical skills necessary for challenging resilient stereotypes about the region, and for independently making sense of historical and contemporary problems in MENA.
Student learning goals
• Understand key concepts and issues in political science and social history, and effectively communicate these both verbally and in writing.
• Understand and critically appraise various perspectives on the politics and history of the Middle East and North Africa.
• Critically assess media and popular discourse on politics, and engage in independent assessment of political issues.
• To locate and access information about the Middle East and North Africa, and take an active role in your own ongoing education about the region.
General method of instruction
The course will draw on both historical and current examples to assess the complex issues and perspectives central to an understanding of the politics of the Middle East and North Africa. The course is not limited to a mere description of issues and themes associated with the world of politics. Rather, we will be constantly challenging the ways we are accustomed to thinking about politics in the region. Through comparing and contrasting various analytical perspectives the course aims to encourage students to think critically about issues raised in class. At a minimum this involves distinguishing among various arguments and modes of analysis, evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of different explanations, and ultimately developing our own independent perspective on various problems encountered in the politics and history of the region.
Class would benefit from reading up on news from the Middle East and North Africa.
Class assignments and grading
A midterm and final, essay, map tests, group projects and participation.