The region known as the Middle East has been at the centre of world attention for over half a century. This introductory course allows students to gain an understanding of contemporary politics of the Middle East, while at the same time increase their knowledge about individual societies. The course is designed for students with limited or no prior knowledge about the region but is likely to challenge also those with prior exposure to the Middle East.
Conceptual instruments will be provided to analyze historical, cultural, ideological and economic forces that continue to shape sociopolitical realities today. The course starts by familiarizing students with the dynamics that played a pivotal part during the emergence of the modern state system at the end of World War I.
We then adopt a comparative politics perspective to explore interactions among states and look into relations between bureaucracies and non-state actors in order to contextualize current discourses and specific movements. Students will learn to distinguish between regime types, their political strategies and practices of power. Due attention will be paid to the links between domestic and regional politics: transnational elements as well as sociopolitical and ethno-religious diversity of the region will be emphasized throughout.
Due to the breadth and geographical scope of the material, students are encouraged to build knowledge on (a subset of) states, in particular through assignments and additional readings. I expect you to follow the news from the region and contribute this to in-class discussions.