Introduction to Middle East Politics
This module will be available in 2012-13
About this module
Most students begin their study of the Middle East with numerous preconceptions drawn from literature, the media and personal experienes gained while travelling round or living in the region. Part of the task of the scholar is to recognise what assumptions they and othres, are making when they look at the region, and then to question where they get those ideas and how valid they really are. This module begins, therefore, by examining the stereotypes of the Middle East that have developed in the modern (i.e. post-eighteenth century) world and contextualising them within a theoretical framework that suggest there are political dynamics at work even before we look at the evidence itself.
The module moves on to look at a number of possible approaches in studying the region: political culture, political economy, post-colonial studies, cultural relativism, development studies, international relations and political geography. Through the lens of theories drawn from these disciplines, and by examining their relevance to the actual experiences of specific Middle Eastern countries, the student is introduced to the politics, economy and society of the region. The aim of the course is not to assert the superiority of any of the various approaches, but to encourage the student to appreciate the frequently controversial diversity of ways in which he or she can seek to unravel the complexities of the Middle East.
Teaching and Learning
The module is taught by a weekly lecture and fortnightly tutorials. The course starts with an introduction to the geography and history of the Middle East, introducing students to the politics, and selected aspects of the economics and societies, of the region. This includes examining and contexualising stereotypes that have developed in the modern (i.e. post-eighteenth century) world and the politics of how the Middle East is often portrayed. The course also looks at a range of possible theoretical approaches to studying the region. The aim of the course is not to assert the superiority (or inferiority) of any of the various approaches, but to encourage the student to appreciate the frequently controversial diversity of ways in which he or she can seek to unravel the complexities of the Middle East.
- Summative essay of 2000 words (33%) submitted in the second term (Epiphany)
- 2-hour unseen written examination (67%) in May/June
James Bill and Robert Springborg, Politics in the Middle East, 2000
Halim Barakat, The Arab World: Society, Culture and State, 1993
Beverley Milton-Edwards, Contemporary Politics in the Middle East, 2000