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Robert Crosnoe, Chair CLA 3.306, Mailcode A1700, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-232-6300

Spring 2010

SOC 308 • Sectarian Politics in Contemporary Muslim Societies (to be cancelled)

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
46265 MWF
9:00 AM-10:00 AM
BUR 112

Course Description

This course examines the intricacies of sectarian politics in contemporary Muslim societies from a political-sociological perspective. We will look at various political actors and their interactions in the context of broader socio-political issues. Together they have shaped the contemporary political realities of many Muslim countries, including Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia. The course takes both a country-specific and a comparative and geo-political approach as it maps the patterns and variations in each case. It will cover major debates and students will be encouraged to draw from particular empirical cases in their assignments, in-class discussions, and oral-presentations. The course takes sectarian politics as its anchor point but it also covers wider, relevant topics such as US-Middle East relations, Authoritarianism and Democracy, Arab nationalism and Islamism, and Colonialism and Modernization. In addition to class readings, relevant audio/visual material will be incorporated in the course.

At the end of the course, students will be expected to demonstrate:
1. Knowledge of key political actors (individuals, organizations, institutions, foreign actors/influences) and important events and developments in each of these countries.
2. Familiarity with major debates regarding the colonial and postcolonial history, political developments and processes, intersection of multiple causes, and geo-political impacts on the origins, forms, and outcomes of sectarian politics.
3. Familiarity with the critical debates regarding the presumptions and limitations in the historiography (history writing) of Islam and Muslim societies.
4. Ability to apply their understandings to particular empirical cases and events.

Grading Policy

Reading Assignments 10%
Term Paper/Project (10 page, double-spaced) 20%
Mid-Term (Multiple-choice and Short-Answer) 30%
Final Exam (Multiple-Choice and Short-Answer) 30%
Class Participation 10%

There will be a mid-term and a non-cumulative final exam. The final exam will only cover the material after the mid-term. The exams will include readings, class lectures, and any other information shared in the class, including the audio/visuals.

Plus/minus grading will be implemented for all students.


All students are expected to attend class regularly and participate in class discussions. There are no text books or course reader for this class. Readings and reading assignments for each week will be posted on Blackboard ( by Friday evening of the previous week.


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