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Level 5

5AAH3014 Faraway so Close: The Middle East since 1800

Credit value: 30
Module convenor/tutorHannah Elsisi
Teaching pattern
: 20 x 1 hour lectures; 20 x 1 hour seminars (weekly)
AvailabilityPlease see module list for relevant year
Assessment: 1 x 3 hour examination (60%), 2 x 2,000 word essays (15% each) & 1 x oral presentation (10%)

Students are reassessed in the failed elements of assessment by the following methods: 1 x 3 hour examination (60%); 2 x 2,000 word essays (15% each); 1 x 1500 word essay (10%)

N.B. This module cannot be taken in conjunction with 5AAH2030 and 5AAH3114 due to overlap of content.

The modules offered in each academic year are subject to change in line with staff availability and student demand: there is no guarantee every module will run. Module descriptions and information may vary between years.

Was the late Ottoman Empire ‘the sick man of Europe’? Was the Iranian Constitutional Revolution of 1906 a dressed rehearsal of the Islamic Revolution of 1979? Are accounts of political Islam ‘Orientalist’? Did Arab nationalism die in the sands of the Sinai desert in 1967? Who is to blame for the failure of the Oslo Accords? Why did Jihad go global?

This module aims to provide students with a broad understanding of modern Middle Eastern history and the complex dynamics of political, cultural and religious change in the region from 1800-present, enabling them to articulate informed opinions on the thorny questions stated above. This will be achieved through a four-pronged methodology. First, students will engage with cutting-edge scholarship and made aware of the main contested areas of the field. Second, students will master relevant historical, literary and social scientific theories, which will equip them with a critical lens to avoid the usual pitfalls of Orientalism, eurocentrism, modernisation theory and Islamophobia. Thirdly, in each seminar students will analyse primary sources in groups and gain a first-hand historian’s experience of the political and cultural diversity of the region, the variety of responses to the challenge of European imperialism, the formulation of alternative forms of modernity, the interplay of state policy with identity politics and the place of gender in the social make-up of the region. Lastly, students will give presentations in groups of three or four following a role-play model, thus complementing their immersion into the history of the Middle East through the impersonation of historical figures. 

Provisional teaching plan

Semester 1

1. The Middle East in 1800 (introduction)
2. Outdated methods: Orientalism, modernisation theory, and their avatars
3: Reformism in the Ottoman empire: dynamism or a last-ditch attempt at                salvation?
4: Modernism and revolution in Qajar Iran
5: Reforms and transformations in 18th-19th century Sunni Islam
6: Egypt’s quest for independence in the so-called ‘liberal age’
7: WWI, the modern state system and Franco-British dominance
8: Go West: the rise of Kemalist Turkey 
9: All for the people, nothing through the people: modernisation in Pahlavi Iran 
10: Zionism, the Birth of Israel and the origins of the Palestinian refugee problem

Semester 2

11: Arab nationalism: triumph or despair?
12: The rise of political Islams
13: Shifting alignments in the Cold War
14: Black gold, black curse: The geopolitics of oil
15: 1979: ‘the last great revolution’
16: Towards a gendered history of the Middle East
17: Who’s to blame? The failure of the Israel-Palestine peace process
18: Iran, Iraq, and the twentieth century's longest war
19: Jihad goes global
20: The Arab uprisings and the future of the Middle East

Suggested Introductory Reading

This is suggested reading and purchase of these texts is not mandatory.

Abrahamian, Ervand, A History of Modern Iran. Cambridge University Press, 2008.

Anderson, Betty S. A History of the Modern Middle East: Rulers, Rebels and Rogues. Stanford University Press, 2016.

Beinin, Joel, Workers and Peasants in the Modern Middle East. Cambridge University Press, 2001.

Cleveland, William L. & Bunton, Martin, A History of the Modern Middle East.Westview Press 2012.

Gelvin, James L., The Modern Middle East: A History. Oxford University Press, 2005.

Lockman, Zachary, Contending Visions of the Middle East. Cambridge University Press, 2009.

Mansfield, Peter. A history of the Middle East. Penguin, 2013.

Rogan, Eugene. The Arabs: A History. 2nd ed, Penguin, 2012.

Said, Edward. Orientalism: Western Conceptions of the Orient, various editions.

Zürcher, Erik. Turkey: A Modern History. I.B. Tauris, 2004.

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