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Robert G. Moser, Chair BAT 2.116, Mailcode A1800, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-5121

Spring 2008

GOV 390L • 4-Politics of the Middle East andNorth Africa

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
39602 W
7:00 PM-10:00 PM
BEN 1.118

Course Description

This seminar will critically examine various Western (Weberian, Marxist, and post-structural) approaches to the study of politics in the Middle East and North Africa, particularly within the Arab world. We stress theoretical assumptions about politics as well as the content of contemporary everyday politics in the region because our understanding of the everyday may be victim to our own intellectual tastes and prejudices. For instance, is "Islamism" an ideology like Marxist-Leninism? Are the "Bolsheviks" or extremists bound to win out? We tend to think by analogy, and it is important for us to be aware of our underlying assumptions. How, if at all, and under what conditions may "democracy" develop in the Muslim parts of the Middle East and North Africa? This seems to be the most important question facing the region today: must its authoritarian regimes make major changes in order to survive? Political transitions are also a major concern of students of comparative politics. We will keep coming back to this question as we analyze institutions, processes, classes, civil society, groups, modes of production, clienteles, ideologies, strategic elites, professions, and the like--categories used to compare political systems. You will also be expected to acquire a good contextual appreciation of at least two other major countries of the Middle East or North Africa in addition to Egypt, which is amply discussed in the core readings.

Three oral presentations in class, each consisting of a critical summary of the assigned readings for that week or one of the suggested and asterisked (*) readings, no more than ten minutes long, accompanied by a class handout of no more than one single-spaced page. In addition you are to prepare two papers, each 10-15 pp. long, analyzing, comparing, and contrasting works read in the seminar.

Grading Policy

Oral presentations with one-page handouts: 30%. Papers: 30% each Quality (not quantity!) of discussion in class or on Blackboard: 10%


All on reserve PCL, and many other recommended books will also be available to purchase as well as put on reserve) Ayyubi, Nazih N., Overstating the Arab State: Politics and Society in the Middle East (London: Tauris, 1995) Hammoudi, Abdellah, Master and Disciple: the Cultural Foundations of Moroccan Authoritarianism, (U. of Chicago Press, 1997) Michael Hudson, ed., Middle East Dilemma: the Politics and Economics of Arab Integration (Columbia UP, 1999) Ibn Khaldun, The Muqaddimah, (abbreviated Rosenthal translation, Bollingen series, Princeton UP) Zachary Lockman, Contending Visions of the Middle East: the History and Politics of Orientalism (Cambridge UP, 2004) Timothy Mitchell, Rule of Experts (U of Calif, Press, 2002) Owen, Roger, State, Power, and Politics, 3rd edition (Routledge, 2004) Marsha Pripstein Posusney and Michele Penner Angrist, eds., Authoritarianism in the Middle East: Regimes and Resistance (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 2005) Lisa Wedeen, Ambiguities of Domination: Politics, Rhetoric, and Symbols in Contemporary Syria (U of Chicago Press, 1999) Quintan Wiktorowicz, ed., Islamic Activism: A Social Movement Theory Approach (Indiana University Press, 2004)


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