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Politics, Ideologies, and Societies in the Middle East


Admission requirements

Admission requirements and any restrictions.
Requirement for BA in MMES track and successfully passed both History of Middle East 1500-present and Economies of the Middle East. All other students must obtain permission of instructor.


This course is an advanced survey (BA second year) of the intersection of ideology and politics in the Middle East, and studies their impact upon the societies in the region. The course is divided into five parts. First, we will begin by examining state formation in the Middle East and the breakup of the Ottoman Empire. Second, we will then consider the geographic and societal formations that “might have been”—the failed projects and potential of unrealized political structures including Greater Syria and Greater Lebanon and the different imagination of Iraq, along with the political and ideological trends that developed in the interwar period and continue to influence the region, including Ba’athism, Nasserism, the halange, and Wahabism. The third assesses the impact of the Cold War, using the involvement of superpowers and their proxy warfare to consider neo-imperialism in the region. We will analyze neo-imperialism in light of the fact that this time period is simultaneously referred to as the “heyday” of cosmopolitanism and pluralism in the region. The fourth examines responses to the political violence of the state and the growing concretization of their security apparatuses, and includes questions of ethnicity, religious sects, and social class. In this section, issues of gender and family are also closely examined. Finally, the fifth and final part of the course considers the future of the region in light of the Arab uprisings of 2011, particularly in terms of political transition and questions of citizenship, the impact of migration and globalization, and the “war on terrorism.”

Course objectives

Concise description of the course objectives formulated in terms of knowledge, insight and skills students will have acquired at the end of the course. The relationship between these objectives and achievement levels for the programme should be evident.
This course builds upon the students’ initial knowledge of the region gained in the first year: They will read and gain understanding in how ideologies of different forms—political, social, economic, and religious—in and of the Middle East impacted societies throughout the region. In addition students will learn how a variety of failed projects continue to haunt national narratives in the region while considering how the region engaged with global geo-politics, such as the Cold War. In addition to engaging with the course material, they will continue to acquire skills to produce a research paper.


Mode of instruction

  • Seminar, with mandatory attendance.

Course Load

Total course load for the course: 140 hours
Hours spent on attending lectures and seminars: 24 hours
Time to be spent studying the compulsory literature and preparing for class presentation: 85 hours
Approximate time for preparing for two exams: one mid term and one final: 30 hours



Assessment method

Class attendance and preparation (15%)
Class participation (20%)
In class presentations/discussion leader (20%)
Two in class exams with a variety of short and essay length open questions. (20% midterm; 25% final)

Reading list

To be determined.


Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.