Spring for 2017-2018
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This course is about Islamists, elections, and politics in the contemporary Middle East. It will address at least three, sometimes related, topics: Islamist politics; Islamists and Elections; and Elections in the Middle East. Although these topics sometimes overlap, this course will take a broader approach to these subjects and will not be limited to only those instances in which Islamists participate in elections. We will also be concerned with mass-based Islamist politics more generally as well as elections in the Middle East. And when examining elections, the course will attempt to integrate some of the theoretical literature on elections in non-democratic contexts (e.g., “authoritarian elections,” “controlled elections,” “limited elections”).
From Morocco to Iraq (and beyond), Islamist groups and movements are the most popular and dynamic political forces in the region. Moreover, contrary to the focus in the United States and Europe, mainstream, non-violent and/or “moderate” Islamist groups are much more popular and influential than the extremist, radical, and violent groups that often receive a disproportionate share of media attention. It also appears that Islamists have increasingly chosen to participate in formal politics, including legislative elections and parliamentary politics. Elections in the Middle East are also receiving more international and domestic attention than in the past and they have possibly become more meaningful and competitive as a result of both domestic pressures for reform and international attention to democratization. And there is reason to expect continued Islamist success at the ballot box. This course, therefore, seeks to focus our attention on the intersection of these two interesting and increasingly important political phenomenon: Islamists and Elections in the Middle East.
Some of the Islamist groups we will focus on include the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, Morocco’s Justice and Development Party (PJD), HAMAS, Jordan’s Islamic Action Front, and Turkey’s AK Party. (We might also study Kuwait’s Islamic Constitutional Movement and the Lebanese Hizbullah).
We will attempt to explore a number of questions surrounding Islamists, Elections, and Politics in the Middle East including: what explains the success (electoral and otherwise) of these movements? To what extent does ideology, organization, and/or social service provision explain Islamist popularity? How important is service provision (e.g., the provision of social welfare services to citizens and constituents, such as schooling, healthcare, pensions, orphanages, recreational activities, etc.) in the success and popularity of these groups? What is the extent of variation in ideology, organization, strategy, etc. of these groups? How important is religion for these movements? Does “inclusion” in the political process lead to “moderation”? How have different regimes (at different times) dealt with these movements (e.g., regime-opposition dynamics)? How have these dynamics affected the development and trajectory of Islamist movements in different parts of the Middle East? Are these movements on the ascendancy or on the decline? These are only some of the many questions we hope to explore during the course of this seminar.
The course will be conducted as a seminar and “research workshop.” The seminar will be based on the intense discussion of selected readings which all participants will complete before class meetings. Moreover, all seminar participants will be engaged in their own research projects throughout the course of the semester. At different point in the semester, participants will (informally) present their ongoing research projects, in addition to being responsible for leading class discussion at least once during the term. Your ongoing research project, which will form the basis of your final paper, need not be limited to the countries covered in the seminar. You will also be encouraged to conduct primary research (in addition, of course, to the use of secondary sources), including analyzing the documents, web sites, electoral platforms, newspapers and other materials produced by Islamist political movements and parties.
Other academic years
There is information about this course number in other academic years: