GOV 390L • 4 - Politics of the Middle East and North Africa
6:30 PM-9:30 PM
Course number may be repeated for credit when topics vary. 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, for virtually all the regimes in the region are confronted with the challenge of making major changes if they are 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 one country of the Middle East or North Africa in addition to Egypt, which is amply discussed in the core readings.
Three oral presentations with one-page handouts in class, also to be posted to firstname.lastname@example.org : 30%. Papers: 30% each - to be submitted in hard copy and also posted to email@example.com Quality (not quantity!) of discussion in class or via internet, to be posted to firstname.lastname@example.org: 10%
For readings please consult www.la.utexas.edu/chenry/pmena