The Emergence of the Modern Middle East


This course provides a broad introduction to the political, social, cultural, and intellectual history of the Middle East from the late 18th century to the present. After a brief critical examination of the designation “modern Middle East,” the course will draw upon a wide array of primary and secondary sources in order to illuminate the series of complex transformations and processes that have contributed, over time, to shaping what it has meant to be “modern” in this remarkably diverse and dynamic region. Particular attention will be paid to the following themes: the question of modernization and reform within the Ottoman and Qajar empires; the experience of different forms of European imperialism in the Middle East; the integration of the Middle East into the world economy; the collapse of the Ottoman Empire; state-building in both colonial and post-colonial contexts; the impact of war on Middle Eastern politics and society; transformations in religious thought; changing family norms and gender roles; the genesis of women’s movements; the emergence of nationalism in competition with various sub- and supranational ideologies (such as pan-Arabism); class politics, social movements, and revolution; Zionism and the Arab-Israeli conflict; the origins and spread of political Islam; the political economy of oil; the Cold War and the role of the United States in the Middle East; globalization and neo-liberal economics; and the impact of various new cultural forms and media on the formation of identities across the region.