Area Studies: the Middle East

Module Leader:
Ákos Erzse
2018-2019 Autumn
Immersion 1
Social Sciences

The module will provide an opportunity to develop an in-depth understanding of the Middle East as a region, organized around four key themes: history, economy and politics, religion, and contemporary issues. Through examining how the Middle East emerged in the modern state system, the first two seminars will provide an insight into the history of the region, focusing first on the pre-World Wars era, and subsequently covering the effects of the Cold War and beyond on the Middle East. Attention will also be paid to how European and US engagement with the Middle East shaped discourses surrounding the region, and its utilization as the defining Other in contemporary political thinking. The second theme will explore the political and economic uniqueness of the region by covering the conflict between pan-Arabism and nationalism, as well as discussing the role of oil in the economy of the Middle East and world politics, examining the intersections of economy, international politics, and identity. The third theme will cover the basics of Islam, its different strands and complexity, as well as consider the distortion of religion by violent extremists in the region, with specific attention paid to the concept of Jihad. Lastly, the module will enable students to explore two key events: the Arab Spring, and the Syrian Civil War, reflecting on the role of social media in politics, as well as the role of international politics and state interests in shaping the lives of people. Through the module, students will gain the opportunity to engage with a variety of disciplines, including political thought, international politics, theology, economics, war studies and history, and gain a nuanced understanding of the intricacies of one of the most fascinating regions of the world by enhancing their skills in critical thinking and seeing the connection between domestic and international events.

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