Middle Eastern Politics
Full course description
Middle East is not only a geographical region or location. It is also a politicised and highly contested concept whose representation sometimes overshadows the actual reality. Middle East has always been a subject in political and academical debates thanks to its controversial history, its demography and its major actors; in economic debates due to its natural resources; in security debates due to the wars and conflicts that affect(ed) the whole global structure. It is infamous with some powerful, undemocratic and repressive political regimes, while at the same time hosting extremely vivid civil societies, record amount of bloggers and online youth activism. It has been an arena where great powers tried to extend their political, ideological and economic ambitions (even their own fights) and intervened almost regularly. For some, the Middle East is a common and generic name for those societies which share the same religion, language, history and culture. For more careful observers, it is an extremely diverse area where various groups speaking different languages and practicing distinct religions for centuries. For critical minds, the Middle East is not an objective and neutral space but a politically constructed concept which is re-produced through certain discourses, representations and practices. In any ways, the Middle East has always been a birth or meeting place of complex combination of significant political, social, cultural, religious, ideational and economic actors, issues and movements. Our purpose in this course is to shed a light on this incredibly interesting and debated region and discuss its historical, economic, social and most importantly political ‘realities’. This course will investigate the past and the present of the region. In the beginning, the course will introduce the concept of Middle East, not only as a geographical place but also a cultural, contextual, discursive and political concept. Then the course will cover the history of the region and its ongoing effect on the current developments. In this context, major events, ideas, issues, (external and internal) actors and political movements that have been shaping the Middle East will be introduced. In the remaining time, specific and contemporary issues such as interventions in the 21st century, Arab Spring, Syrian civil war and rising rivalries between regional powers will be introduced and critically analysed.
- To critically investigate and analyse the historical and political processes and actors in the Middle East and their impacts on the contemporary economic, social, cultural and political landscape in the region.
- To assess the effect of the local, regional and global power relations and rivalries in the Middle Eastern states and societies. To look critically into the role of these relationships in the ‘making’ and in the ‘representation’ of Middle East.
- To understand several significant historical issues, actors, ruptures, critical turning points and transformatory processes in the region.
- Linking these historical processes to the study of Middle East today and trying to make sense of contemporary events, conflicts, actors and issues in the Middle East.
- To explore the role of bottom-up and top-down processes, discourses, subjectivities and identities; to bring sub-altern, hidden, silenced, invisible and irrelevant to the surface.
SSC1006/SSC2002 International Relations: Themes and Theories
COR1003 Contemporary World History
Various books (available in our library)
Selected articles and scholarly or educational texts
Visual and online resources