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Developments in the Modern Middle East


Admission requirements

Admission prioritized to the MA Middle Eastern Studies, specialisation Modern Middle East Studies. Students of the MA Middle Eastern Studies (research) or another relevant MA should seek approval from Dr. M. (Marina) Calculli prior to registration. All students should have had approximately 30 EC worth of courses in Middle Eastern Studies at BA level. Students who are interested in taking this course, but who do not fulfill these requirements are requested to contact Dr. Calculli.


If the West’s perceptions of the Middle East can be characterized as Orientalist, is Occidentalism then an apt term to be used for Middle Eastern perceptions of the West? Although coined earlier, it was brought to a wider audience by Ian Buruma and Avishai Margalit in their “Occidentalism: A Short History of Anti-Westernism” (2004). In this course we will examine whether the concept of Occidentalism is useful to understanding Middle Eastern attitudes towards the West. We will look into the historical development of relations between the Middle East and the Western World, as well as 20th and 21st century manifestations of anti-Westernism, anti-Americanism and antisemitism. We will examine how memories, traumas, imaginations and discourses about the West have been experienced and/or constructed, thus shaping Middle Eastern views of the West.

Course objectives

  • to obtain familiarity with the theories developed in social sciences and their application in the study of the Middle East and Islam;

  • enhance students’ analytical and critical skills through reading academic and primary texts;

  • to develop the skills and insights that are necessary to evaluate existing research;

  • to report on research findings orally and in writing, in accordance with the basic standards of humanities scholarship.

Time table


Mode of instruction

  • Seminar
    Students are required to attend all lectures, participate actively in class discussion and prepare the assigned reading for all sessions. If you cannot attend a class for a good reason (i.e. unforeseen circumstances such as illness, family issues, problems with residence permits, the Dutch railways in winter, etc.), you are expected to inform the convener beforehand. 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.

Course load

  • 2 contact hours per week = 13×2: 26 hours

  • 12 hours preparing for each class: 144 hours

  • Assignments: 55 hours

  • Final paper: 55 hours
    Total course load: 280 hours

Assessment method


Assignments and a final paper.


The final mark is composed of
25% for participation;
25% for assignments;
50% final paper.


The final paper is written in two stages: a first version which will be commented on and a final version. Students who do not meet the deadline for the first version will lose the right to get comments and will only be graded based on their final version. (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.)

In order to pass the course, students must obtain an overall mark of 5.50 (=6) or higher.

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

How and when a term paper review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the course results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the course results, a term paper review will have to be organized.



Reading list

  • Ian Buruma and Avishai Margalit. Occidentalism: A Short History of Anti-Westernism. London: Atlantic/New York: Penguin, 2004.

  • other selected readings will be provided via Blackboard.


Students of the MA program Middle Eastern Studies are required to register through uSis before January 15. 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.”.

Other students are requested to send an email to the study co-ordinator including their name, student ID number, course title and prospectus or catalog number. Depending on the availability of places, the study co-ordinator will register these students after January 15. By February 1 at the latest the student will be able to see in uSis whether (s)he is registered or not.

Not registration, means no permission to attend this course. See also the ‘Registration procedures for classes and examinations’ for registration deadlines and more information on how to register.

Contact information

Dr. M. Calculli

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).