ARST-625 Comparative Politics of the Middle East
Fall for 2017-2018
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What explains the recent wave of uprisings in the Arab world and their very different outcomes? How did Saddam Hussain stay in power for so long? Why hasn’t economic liberalization led to political reform in Egypt? What impact does oil have on politics in Saudi Arabia? Why did the Egyptian army maintain its distance from Mubarak, while the Syrian army has tied its fate to Asad? Can the Muslim Brothers be considered part of civil society? What - if anything - does Israel have in common with Iran?
This course seeks to address questions such as these by introducing students to political science debates on Middle East politics and, more specifically, comparative approaches to the region’s politics. Students will become familiar not only with the empirical characteristics of Middle East politics, but also with the major concepts and theories with which political scientists seek to understand the region’s politics. By adopting a critical approach to phenomena such as ethnicity, religion, nationalism and class, the course also seeks to explain Middle East politics with reference to its underlying social dynamics.
Themes addressed in the course include: state formation; nationalism; authoritarianism; the communal politics of religion, sect, and ethnicity; civil-military relations; economic and political reform; social movements; civil society; networks and informal politics; and the politics of revolution and popular protest.
Each seminar will focus on particular case studies as a means to examine key concepts and theories in political science, allowing students to expand their empirical knowledge of the Middle East as well as their knowledge of debates in the field. However, students may choose which countries to focus on in their assignments, so have the option of developing special expertise in particular areas of interest.
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