MES 322K • Authoritarianism in the Middle East
3:30 PM-5:00 PM
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 100 pages per week. In class students will be expected to raise questions and criticisms about the assigned texts.
Grades will be based on active class participation (20%), two exams (20% each), an in-class debate (20%): and four short writing assignments (20%).