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Theories and Methods of Middle East and Islamic Studies 1


Note: the first meeting for this course will take place on Friday, September 8, 10-11 hs, in Wijkplaats 2/2. Presence of students of both Theories and Methods of Middle East and Islamic Studies 1 and Theories and Methods of Middle East and Islamic Studies 2 is required.

Admission requirements

Admission to the MA Middle Eastern Studies. Please, contact the student advisor or the course convener, if you are interested in taking this course but NOT a student of the above-mentioned MA programme.


What are area studies? Is it possible to study a group of people on its own terms? Do paradigms dominating contemporary scholarship on the Middle East reveal as much about those formulating the paradigms as they do about their object of enquiry? These questions will guide our examination of theoretical and methodological debates in the study of the Middle East. This course is designed for graduate students who have an interest in the Middle East.

Unit 1: Orientalism Unit 2: Modernization Unit 3: Race Unit 4: Gender and Sexuality
Unit 5: Religion

Course objectives

  • to develop the skills necessary to evaluating existing scholarship - to obtain familiarity with theories developed in the humanities and their application in the study of the Middle East and Islam;

  • to understand the merits and drawbacks of these theories both in general and in specific cases;

  • to learn how to write a grant proposal

Time table


Mode of instruction

  • Seminar.

Attendance and active participation are obligatory for seminars. Students are required to prepare for and attend all sessions. The convenors need to be informed without delay of any classes missed for a good reason (i.e. due to unforeseen circumstances such as illness, family issues, problems with residence permits, the Dutch railways in winter, etc.). In these cases it is up to the discretion of the convener(s) of the course whether or not the missed class will have to be made up with an extra assignment. The maximum of such absences during a semester is two. Being absent without notification and/or more than two times can result in exclusion from the term end exams and a failing grade for the course.

Assessment method


The course consists primarily of discussion of assigned readings and written assignments.
Students will be graded on the basis of two assignments.


  1. Attendance and Participation (40%). Participation will require the submission of a written response to the week’s assigned readings (approximately 250 words). Responses must be submitted on Blackboard 24 hours in advance of the class. In addition, each student will give one15 minute oral presentation on the assigned readings during the course of the semester.
  2. Research grant proposal: 60%

(The paper deadline mentioned in uSis is a fictional date for administration purposes only. The actual date will be communicated by the convenor of the course.)


It is not possible to pass the course if you miss more than one session. In order to pass the course, students must obtain an overall mark of 5.50 (=6) or higher. Re-sits are only possible if the student obtains an overall mark of 5.49 or lower. No partial re-sits are permitted. Re-sit assignments, if applicable, will be discussed with the professor.

The course is an integrated whole. The final examination and the assignments must be completed in the same academic year. No partial marks can be carried over into following years.

Exam review

Final paper comments will be given only if a student requests them within 30 days of their final paper results.

Reading list

Amin, Samir. 1988. Eurocentrism (New York: Monthly Review Press).
Bourdieu, Pierre. 1990 The Logic of Practice (Stanford: Stanford University Press).
Fanon, Frantz. [1952] 2008. Black Skin White Masks (New York: Grove Press).
Fanon, Frantz. 1965. A Dying Colonialism (New York: Grove Press).
Foucault, Michel. 1972. The Archaeology of Knowledge and the Discourse on Language (New York: Tavistock).
Foucault, Michel. 1990. The History of Sexuality, Vol. 2: The Use of Pleasure (New York: Vintage).
Montesquieu [1721] 2008. Persian Letters (Oxford: Oxford University Press).
Mitchell, Timothy. 1991. Colonizing Egypt (Berkeley: University of California Press).
Other selected readings

Course load

  • 3 contact hours per week = 13×3: 39 hours

  • 10 hours reading for each class: 120 hours

  • 12 writing assignments: 20 hours

  • Preparing the presentation: 2 hours

  • Grant proposal: 100 hours

  • Total course load: 280 hours


Students are required to register through uSis. To avoid mistakes and problems, students are strongly advised to register in uSis through the activity number which can be found in the timetable in the column under the heading “Act.nbr.”. General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Studeren à la carte nor Contractonderwijs is possible for this course.



Contact information

Dr. N. Latif


Students with disabilities

The university is committed to supporting and accommodating students with disabilities as stated in the university protocol (especially pages 3-5). Students should contact Fenestra Disability Centre at least four weeks before the start of their courses to ensure that all necessary academic accommodations can be made in time conform the abovementioned protocol.

Academic Integrity

Students are expected to be familiar with Leiden University policies on plagiarism and academic integrity. Plagiarism will not be tolerated. If you submit any work with your name affixed to it, it is assumed to be your own work with all sources used properly indicated and documented in the text (with quotations and/or citations).