This course focuses on the study of Middle Eastern (geo)politics. By discussing the major (geo)political questions of the Middle East, the course aims to provide students with a critical understanding of the political, economic and societal patterns of the region in order to contextualize the contemporary developments in the Middle East.
The course will be opened by outlining Orientalism as a significant perspective when studying the Middle East. It will be followed up by a discussion about legacies of European colonialism and the rise of pan-ideologies (Arab nationalism, pan-Islamism) that continue to shape politics in the Middle East until today. In the later part of the course, the role of oil at the international level (as a strategic geopolitical resource) as well as the intra-state level (the rentier state vs. “the resource curse“) will be examined. Following a discussion of the geopolitical significance of the Arab(Palestinian)-Israeli conflict, the course will further explore the modes of inter-Arab regimes of cooperation (esp. Arab League, Gulf Cooperation Council) and the role of regional powers (with a particular focus on Turkey). The course will end with a look on the Arab Spring and the diverse roles of civil society.
The objective of this course is two-fold: (1) to provide students with a more detailed and nuanced understanding of modern Middle Eastern politics and societies by studying the underlying (geo)political factors; and (2) to expose students to a variety of approaches in understanding the complexities of the region. By the end of the course students will be able to construct and articulate arguments about the Middle Eastern region based on theoretical and empirical knowledge gained from readings, class discussions and presentation assignments.
The course is taught in English. As long as you are able to read the assignments and contribute to class discussions, you are warmly encouraged to join this course.