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Culture Middle East


Admission requirements

This course is only available for students in the BA International Studies.


When studying a particular region of the world, knowledge of its cultural universe is crucial; the study of culture allows the understanding of the deeper structures behind history, politics and economy. Culture is the symbolic repertoire that gives form and content to national and collective identities, the subjectivity of individuals, and the environment. Culture is expressed in both material and immaterial resources, through which relations of legitimacy and domination are built in specific temporal and geographical contexts. Culture is a domain in which strategies for winning consent and cohesion are reflected, but it also includes mechanisms of in- and exclusion or conflicts on the basis of e.g. nationality, language, religion, ethnicity or gender. This course looks at these processes in specific cultural contexts of the world, and revises the regional scholarly traditions in the study and circulation of culture.

This course introduces students to the Middle East from a cultural anthropological perspective. Students will become acquainted with anthropological concepts: tribe, rural and urban life, the state, gender, familyrelations, traditions and religion. Students will apply these concepts in several Middle Eastern countries ranging from Iran to Morocco in both historical and contemporary contexts. The course will also explore the role of language in constructing social identities in the Middle East and introduce socio- linguistic theory related to the construction of various forms of identities. The anthropological and socio-linguistic approaches are also subject to scrutiny, by placing them in their social and historical context.

Course objectives

A sound overview of important anthropological and socio-linguistic studies of Middle Eastern societies.
An introduction to cultural anthropological and socio-linguistical theories and methods relevant for the subject.
This course aims to improve academic writing and presentation skills. Students will be able to develop critical thinking and argumentation skills.


The timetable is available on the BA International Studies website

Mode of instruction

Lecture and tutorials

Lecture and tutorials
Attending lectures and tutorials is compulsory. If you are not able to attend a lecture or tutorial, please inform the tutor of the course. Being absent without notification can result in a lower grade or exclusion from the final exam or essay.

Course Load

Total course load for the course is 140 hours, broken down by:

Hours spent on attending lectures and seminars: 32 hours
Time for studying the compulsory literature: 60 hours
Assessments: 48 hours

Assessment method

Tutorials 30%
Midterm Exam 30%
Final Exam 40%

If the final grade is insufficient (lower than a 6), there is the possibility of retaking the full 70% of the exam material, replacing both the earlier mid- and endterm grades. No resit for the tutorials is possible.


Blackboard will be used. Students are requested to register on Blackboard for this course.

Reading list

D. Eickelman (2002) The Middle East and Central Asia. An Anthropological Approach. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall
Some additional readings (articles put on Blackboard). A definitive reading list will be made available at the beginning of the course.


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.

Students are requested to register through uSis, the registration system of Leiden University for this course. General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.



Dr. M.J. Kahmann, email
Dr. K.M.J. Sanchez, email