Skip Navigation
UT wordmark
College of Liberal Arts wordmark
mes masthead
Kamran Scot Aghaie, Chair CAL 528 | 204 W 21st St F9400 | Austin, TX 78712-1029 • 512-471-3881

Spring 2006

MES 322K • Authoritarianism in the Middle East- W

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
41095 TTh
2:00 PM-3:30 PM
BUR 436A

Course Description

Contains a substantial writing component and fulfills part of the basic education requirement in writing. Upper-division standing required. Course number may be repeated for credit when the topics vary. The Middle East is sometimes considered an exception to recent trends of democratization. Is this perception accurate? If so, what explains the persistence of authoritarian regimes in the Middle East when countries across the globe have instituted democratic forms of government? If not, on what basis is this image based and in what ways are Middle Eastern regimes similar to governments elsewhere? These are the primary questions of this course, which will begin with a discussion of authoritarianism and then explore a range of explanations for the present state of politics in the Middle East. Our focus will be analyzing and understanding political trends. We will not spend a great amount of time recounting the history of individual countries. Hence, it will be helpful if students have some familiarity with Middle Eastern states or are willing to do extra reading and acquire that background. We will attempt to cover the gamut of recent major arguments refuting or explaining Middle East exceptionalism. Students should expect an average reading load of 120-150 pages per week. In small groups, students will also prepare presentations that will guide our in-class discussions. The course will also emphasize written work, in the form of small papers and one large research paper, as a way to apply and build upon the explanations addressed in the readings and in class.

Grading Policy

Grades will be based on active class participation, including regular presentations in class (30%), a mid-term examination (10%), and two written assignments: a 5-page book report (10%), 1-3 short response papers (10%), and a 15-page research paper (40%).


Hannah Arendt, Totalitarianism: Part Three of The Origins of Totalitarianism (1985). Paul Brooker, Non-Democratic Regimes: Theory, Government and Politics (2000). Marsha Pripstein Posusney and Michele Penner Angrist (eds.), Authoritarianism in the Middle East: Regimes and Resistance (2005). United Nations Development Program, Arab Human Development Report 2004: Freedom and Good Governance in Arab Countries (2005). Lisa Wedeen, Ambiguities of Domination: Politics, Rhetoric, and Symbols in Contemporary Syria (1999). A novel chosen from a list provided in class. There will also be a course packet of other readings. Recommended: William J. Spencer, Global Studies: The Middle East, 10th Ed., (2004).


bottom border