This course examines both the international relations and comparative politics of the Middle East, covering a variety of topics and issues. Three of the most important themes discussed are the role of Islam in regional politics, the question of nationalism and national identity, and the effects of Western imperial impact on the modern Middle East. We will examine how each of these key elements has affected the historical development and contemporary politics of the region. In addition, the course will look at the politics of various countries of the region in comparative perspective with special focus on Egypt, Israel, Iran and Turkey. This will lead the class, in class discussions, to such topics as ethnicity, gender and the class politics, Pan-Arabism, Islamic “fundamentalism”, questions of state-building and development, the political economy of oil, crises in the Persian Gulf, the Arab-Israeli conflict, and the rise and fall of the Middle East peace process.
Students should have a basic understanding of the political and historical processes that have shaped the societies of the Middle East.
Field WorkCountry: Turkey
The Golden Age of Islam was from the 8th to the 13th centuries. During this time, while Europe was in the Middle Ages/dark ages, poets, philosophers, mathematicians , engineers and other scholars were making magnificent contributions in almost all areas of study such as mathematics, the sciences, astronomy, philosophy, navigation, agriculture, economics, and literature. This Islamic Renaissance was also responsible for the preservation of our knowledge from earlier traditions. Even though Western culture acknowledges some of the contributions from this era (Arabic numerals, the decimal system, algebra and algorithms), most are unaware of the true enormity of the era's impact. From the introduction of the credit cards, to the first medical schools, to the formation of the scientific method, to construction of the world's first observatory in Bagdad, the Golden Age of Islam was responsible for many ideas, inventions and institutions we take for granted today. To help understand this era better, Turkey opened the Museum of the History of Islam, Science and Technology. Participants will take a guided tour of this museum, which contains examples of devices and tools used in geography, astronomy, oceanography, machinery, geometry, optics, medicine, chemistry, mining, physics, mechanics, war and architecture. The museum is housed in the former stables of the Topkapi Palace, the former official Istanbul residence of the Ottoman sultans, including Suleiman the Magnificent. This field lab relates directly to this course, Government and Politics of the Middle East, as in this museum the students will learn about the past, present, and future of Islam and its Golden Age as it relates to Turkey; the role of women in the Middle East in the past and the present, as well as develop an understanding of the Islamic renaissance and its contribution to the modern age. These topics are covered in parts of the required readings for this course as well as in the lectures.