GOVT-321 Dept Sem: Radical Political Movements in the Middle East
Fall for 2010-2011
This course deals with those radical-revolutionary thinkers and movements that were the most influential and left the most lasting imprint on political life in the modern Middle East. The course is meant also to bring out the metamorphosis of political and intellectual radicalism during the studied period from secular to religious-Islamist. In other words: while, with one exception, until 1979-1980 the most effective political radical thinkers and movements were strictly secular, since then the radical torch has moved to extremist Islamists. The course will open with a discussion of what is radicalism, what is a movement, where is the Middle East, and what are the conditions that produce a successful revolution? We shall then begin by examining the thinker who, almost single-handedly, planted the seed of secular pan-Arabism that became eventually the hallmark of the most important Arab movements and regimes: the Ba’th and the Nasserists. Likewise we shall study the original ideas of the Egyptian Muslim Brothers, by far the most important religious movement during the first half of the 20th century. The course will end with a study of the contemporary radical Islamist movements: that of Ayatollah Khomeini, a successful revolutionary (what was his secret?), the contemporary Muslim Brothers, and their spiritual and emotional heirs, including al-Qa’idah who, so far, have failed to achieve their enormously ambitious endeavor.
The course plan may go through minor modifications during the semester in terms of the relative emphasis on the various movements and thinkers.
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Additional syllabi may be available in prior academic years.
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