MES 381 • Politics of Middle East and North Africa
6:30 PM-9:30 PM
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.
Oral presentations with one-page handouts: 20%; Papers: 35%; Quality (not quantity!) of discussion in class or via internet: 10%
Abel's Course Packet Ayyubi, Nazih N., Overstating the Arab State: Politics and Society in the Middle East (London: Tauris, 1995) Eva Bellin, Stalled Democracy: Capital, Labor, and the Paradox of State-Sponsored Development (Cornell University Press, 2002). El-Kenz, Ali, Algerian Reflections on Arab Crises (UT 1991) Hammoudi, Abdellah, Master and Disciple: the Cultural Foundations of Moroccan Authoritarianism, (U. of Chicago Press, 1997) Ibn Khaldun, The Muqaddimah (abridged ed. Princeton Bollinger Series) Owen, Roger, State, Power, and Politics (Routledge, 1992) Henry and Springborg, Globalization and the politics of development in the Middle East (Cambridge University Press, 2001) Michael Hudson, ed., Middle East Dilemma: the Politics and Economics of Arab Integration (Columbia UP, 1999). Timothy Mitchell, Rule of Experts (U of California Press, 2002) Roy, Olivier, The Failure of Political Islam (Cambridge, MA: Harvard, 1994) Salame, Ghassan, ed., Democracy Without Democrats? (St. Martin's, 1995) Said, Edward, Covering Islam: How the Media and the Experts Determine How We See the Rest of the World (Vintage pb, 1997) Mark Tessler, ed., Area Studies and Social Science Strategies: Understanding Middle Eastern Politics (Indiana University Press, 1999)