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Elective: Cultures of Conflict in the Modern Middle East

Vak
2016-2017

Admission requirements

This course is only available for second year students in the BA International Studies.
The number of participants is limited to 25.

Description

The well-known and oft-reported conflicts of the modern Middle East are the subjects of this course. We examine how theories from Cultural Studies which explore life practice and social divisions and struggles, can help us develop a better understanding of Middle Eastern conflicts beyond the familiar narratives of politicking and images of violence as depicted in the media. By studying political conflicts from the perspectives of societies, individuals and the discourses in which they participate, we shall see how conflicts and social struggles in the Middle East are expressed in many ways ranging from physical violence to choice of clothing, from mass demonstrations to the performance of hip-hop. Interpreting the messages of these expressions provides alternative ways to grasp the drivers behind current struggles and what is at stake for their participants.

The course begins by developing theoretical approaches to conflict and social struggle within the realm of Cultural Studies, and then explores how the theory can be applied to Middle East contexts via case studies of salient conflicts in the region from the twentieth century to the present.

The first half of the course studies the construction of and tensions within ethnic and national identities (particularly Persian and Arabic), the responses to the post-colonial borders imposed in the region (with emphasis on the Sahara and Palestine), the challenges of modernisation in Turkey and Iran, and the effects of globalisation in the Arab World and Islamist movements.

The second half focuses on the expressions of social division and struggle within Middle Eastern societies, relating street music and graffiti to economic and youth concerns, applying gendered discussions to social violence and the complexities of the modern, the media, justice and faith in the recent Arab-world demonstrations and wars.

Additionally, the students will work through W.C. Booth, G.G. Colomb, J.W. Williams, The Craft of Research, third edition, Chicago/London: University of Chicago Press, 2008.

Course objectives

The student will:
a) become familiar with major social and political conflicts in the Middle East (Morocco and Western Sahara to Iran) from decolonisation after World War II to the present;
b) be introduced to the key ethnic and national identities and forms of cultural production such as art, literature and music in the modern Middle East;
c) develop understanding of Cultural Studies theory and modern theoretical work on conflict and violence;
d) learn how to critically analyse identities and cultural production in socio-political contexts;
e) explore the extent to which Cultural Studies theory, so intimately tied to Western academia, is applicable to interpret society and events in varied Middle Eastern contexts.

Academic skills that are trained include:

Oral presentation skills:
1. to explain clear and substantiated research results;
2. to provide an answer to questions concerning (a subject) in the field covered by the course
a. in the form of a clear and well-structured oral presentation;
b. in agreement with the appropriate disciplinary criteria;
c. using up-to-date presentation techniques;
d. aimed at a specific audience;
3. to actively participate in a discussion following the presentation.
Collaboration skills:
1. to be socio-communicative in collaborative situations;
2. to provide and receive constructive criticism, and incorporate justified criticism by revising one’s own position;
3. adhere to agreed schedules and priorities.
Basic research skills, including heuristic skills:
1. to collect and select academic literature using traditional and digital methods and techniques;
2. to analyze and assess this literature with regard to quality and reliability;
3. to formulate on this basis a sound research question;
4. to design under supervision a research plan of limited scope, and implement it using the methods and techniques that are appropriate within the discipline involved;
5. to formulate a substantiated conclusion.
Written presentation skills:
1. to explain clear and substantiated research results;
2. to provide an answer to questions concerning (a subject) in the field covered by the course
a. in the form of a clear and well-structured oral presentation;
b. in agreement with the appropriate disciplinary criteria;
c. using relevant illustration or multimedia techniques;
d. aimed at a specific audience.

Timetable

The timetable is available on the BA International Studies website

Mode of instruction

Seminar and supervised research.

Course Load

Total course load for the course: 10 EC x 28 hours= 280 hours, broken down by:
• Attending lectures and seminars: 24 hours
• Studying the compulsory literature: 90 hours
• Completion of short assignments: 30 hours
• Researching and writing final paper (including initial drafts): 136 hours

Assessment method

Assessment and Weighing

  • Paper – 60%

  • Six short asssignments/essays (the top five aggregated for final mark) – 30%

  • Attendence and class participation – 10%

To complete the final mark, please take notice of the following:
the final mark for the course is established by determining the weighted average

Note: The maximum possible grade to be obtained for re-submission of the final essay is a 6.0
To complete the final mark, please take notice of the following: the final mark for the course is established by determining the weighted average.
To pass the course, the weighted average has to be 5.5 at least.

Resit

Resubmitting the final essay (insufficient grade only) will lead to a deduction of 1 point. The deadline for resubmission is 10 days after receiving the grade for the final essay.

Blackboard

Blackboard will be used. For tutorial groups: please enroll in blackboard after your enrolment in uSis
Students are requested to register on Blackboard for this course.

Reading list

Detailed reading list for each week’s topics will be announced on Blackboard; the following texts will be used in the course and are recommended to students in advance as good introductions to major topics that will be discussed:

On identity:

  • Rodinson, Maxime, The Arabs. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1981.

  • Zia-Ebrahimi, Zia, The Emergence of Iranian Nationalism. Columbia: Columbia University Press, 2015.

On conflict generally:

  • Friedman, Jonathan (Ed.), Globalisation, the State, and Violence. Walnut Creek: Altamira Press, 2003.

  • Grossberg, L, “Identity and Cultural Studies: Is that all there is?”, Stuart Hall and Paul du Gray (Eds.), Questions of Cultural Identity. London: Sage, 1996), pp. 87-107.

  • Skocpol, Theda, Social Revolutions in the Modern World. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1994.

  • Tilly, Charles, The Politics of Collective Violence. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2003.

On Middle Eastern cultures and conflicts:

  • Achcar, Gilbert, The People Want: A Radical Exploration of the Arab Uprising. London: Saqi, 2013.

  • Chehabi, Houchang, “Staging the Emperor’s New Clothes: Dress Codes and Nation-Building under Reza Shah”. Iranian Studies (1993) 26.3-4, pp. 209-229.

  • Ennaji, Moha and Fatima Sadiqi (Eds.), Gender and Violence in the Middle East. London: Routledge, 2011.

  • Al-Hamamsy, Walid and Mounira Soliman (Eds.), Popular Culture in the Middle East and North Africa: A Postcolonial Outlook. London: Routledge, 2013.

  • Hamond, Andrew, Pop Culture Arab World! Santa-Barbara CA: ABC0-Clio, 2006.

  • Khalaf, Samir and Roseanne Saad Khalaf (Eds.), Arab Society and Culture: An Essential Reader. London: Saqi, 2009.

  • Khatib, Lina, Image Politics in the Middle East: The Role of the Visual in Political Struggle. London: I.B. Tauris, 2012.

  • Sabry, Tarik, Cultural Encounters in the Arab World. London: I.B. Tauris, 2010.

W.C. Booth, G.G. Colomb, J.W. Williams, The Craft of Research, third edition, Chicago/London: University of Chicago Press, 2008

Registration

Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable

Contact

Contact information
T.B.A.

Remarks

Passing this course is an entry requirement for the thesis and thesis seminar, elective year 3, and Practising Internatonal Studies.

The deadline for submission of the final essay is 9 June 2017.