This module analyses the dynamic relationship and intersection of religion and politics in the contemporary Middle East. It explores the diverse ways in which religion manifests itself politically, beyond sectarianism and political Islamism, through empirically rich case studies and comparative perspectives. It addresses themes of religion and secularism, religious nationalism, and jihad and violence, locating them within broader political processes of state building, resistance and ethno-religious conflict. The module provides an initial overview of the Middle East's religious and political landscape, examining the religious plurality and volatility of the region and the rise of political Islam. It then explores how Islamist movements have shaped state formation (Wahhabism in Saudi Arabia), fuelled revolution (Iran), violent jihad (al-Qaeda and ISIS) and resistance (Hizbullah and Hamas). The module then turns to focus on religion's role in regional security, peace-building and sectarian conflict; utilising a variety of theoretical perspectives to explore ongoing contestation over sacred sites, symbols and religious identities. Finally, the module addresses how religion and politics converge over key thematic social issues in the region such as gender, education, civic rights and the media. This module offers students an expansive and critical overview of how religion and politics impact state, society and international relations in the Middle East.
*Please note that module information is indicative and may change from year to year.
Dr Charis Boutieri
One-hour lecture and one-hour seminar weekly over twenty weeks (two terms)
Module assessment - more information
1,500-word book review (20%) and 2 x 3,000-word essays (40% each)