30534 - ISLAM, POLITICS AND THE MIDDLE EAST
Course taught in English
Go to class group/s: 31
Class-group lessons delivered on campus
Basic knowledge of theories and concepts of political science.
The course aims at introducing students to the politics of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) with a special eye to the phenomenon of Political Islam, a characteristic of the region but not unique to it. During the first module, students will be provided with the main historical, social, and economic features underpinning current politics in the Middle East and North Africa. In so doing, this part will also equip students with the main analytical tools needed to comprehend the course of current politics in the region and critically analyze it. Particular attention will be paid to assess the meaning and the implications of the Arab Spring for the entire region. The second half of the course will be devoted instead to the phenomenon of Political Islam which, from the 1970s onwards, is a hallmark of politics in many Muslim-majority countries. It focuses on understanding the intertwining forces of Islam and politics by engaging in the thoughts and political ideas of contemporary Muslim thinkers, providing key concepts in political Islam, as well as discussing empirical knowledge of key countries. It also provides students with opportunities to improve their skills in conducting independent research, critically engaging with existing arguments and theories, and writing short essays.
Lecturer: Valeria Resta
The module is intended as an introduction to Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) politics. It is organized along three core lines. First, it provides students with the historical, social, and economic features informing current politics in the Middle East and North Africa. Second, it illustrates the working and functioning of key democratic institutions along with authoritarian modes of governing across the region. Third, it discusses the implications of the Arab Spring for the political asset of the region.
Lecturer: Naila Shofia
This module aims to assess a political ideology that declares its base in Islam. First, it invites the students to analytically engage in the thoughts and ideas of key contemporary Muslim thinkers about political and social issues that are pertinent in the Western Liberal democracy, e.g. the idea of the state, democracy, the rights of women and the rights of minorities. It then proceeds to dwell into Islamism, a movement that aims at Islamic revival in the political and social aspects of life. We will discuss various aspects of this movement: understanding its root and expansion; understanding who Islamists are and what do they want. In particular, we will seek to understand the inherent nuances within this social movement and how the specific features of national politics shape its character and behavior. A deep understanding of this issue enables students to critically analyze the complexities of this movement and its implication for politics and international relations.
- Understand key aspects of Middle East politics from the 19th century to the present.
- Discuss the major political, economic, and social transformations of politics in the contemporary Middle East.
- Understand the views and thoughts of key contemporary Muslim thinkers on various aspects of Western Liberal Democracy
- Understand the concept and terminology of political Islam and Islamism.
- Understand the root cause of Islamism, its trajectory, its actors, its rise, and expansion.
- Understand the variety of Islamist governance within the Muslim world.
- Understand the nuances and complexities in the nature and behavior of this movement around the world.
- Apply theories of political science to the study of Middle East politics.
- Apply theories of political science to Islamist movement in the Muslim world.
- Critically analyze the implication of Islamism in politics and international relations.
- Write essay papers.
- Face-to-face lectures
The assessment of attending students consists of two components:
- Class participation (20% of the final grade)
- Individual essay assignments (80% of the final grade): At the end of each module, students will be asked to respond to one out of 3 question options by writing a short essay (of maximum 1000 words) that need to be submitted by the respective timeline. Each module carries the same weight (40% of the final grade). Students are required to use the reading material assigned, recognize links among arguments and topics discussed in class, and make an argument based on the evidence provided in the literature. The assignment aims at helping students improve their skills in academic writing.
Individual essay assignments (100% of the final grade): At the end of each module, students will be asked to respond to one out of 3 question options by writing a short essay (of maximum 1000 words) that need to be submitted by the respective timeline. Each module carries the same weight (50% of the final grade). Students are required to use the reading material assigned, recognize links among arguments and topics discussed in class, and make an argument based on the evidence provided in the literature. The assignment aims at helping students improve their skills in academic writing.
Ayoob, Mohammed. The Many Faces of Political Islam. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. 2008
Durac, Vincent and Francesco Cavatorta. Politics and Governance in the Middle East. Palgrave 2015
Kurzman, Charles. Liberal Islam: A Sourcebook. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 1998
Lust, Ellen. The Middle East. Sage. 2019 (Fifteenth edition)