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Peoples and Cultures of the Middle East
CEUS-R 352/552
M. Nazif Shahrani

This course carries CASE S&H & CASE GCC designations

The principal objective of this course is to acquaint students with the anthropological contributions to the study of the peoples and cultures of the Middle East. It is an ethnographic survey course which examines the unity and diversity of social institutions and cultural forms in contemporary Middle Eastern societies--i.e., the Arab countries of North Africa and the Near East, Israel, Turkey, Iran and Afghanistan. Topics discussed include: ecology, the rise and development of Islam and Muslim empires; traditional adaptive strategies (pastoral nomadism, rural agriculture and urban mercantilism); pre-colonial ties with Europe, consequences of colonialism, political independence and the rise of nation states; changing conceptions of tribalism, kinship, ethnicity, gender, personal and collective identities; and the consequences of modernization, oil wealth, poverty, labor migration, political conflicts and social unrest (including terrorism).

Required Texts:

Course Requirements: There will be three examinations. All exams will by essay form, consisting of short-answer questions and longer essays. The first two examinations (mid-terms) will be worth 50 points each for a total of 100 points. The final examination will be comprehensive and worth 100 points. A five page (double-spaced typed) critical and comparative review of two of the ethnographic case studies (by Friedl, Rosen, and Shahrani) with particular attention to their value as effective anthropological contributions (lack thereof) to our knowledge of the Muslim Middle East (worth 30 points). Critical reading and in-class discussion of weekly required readings assignment (worth 10 points, see the attachments for details). Attendance and participation in class discussions worth 10 points. No points will be assigned to students missing more than three classes during the semester without a written excuse. For undergraduate students the course grade will be determined on the basis of 250 cumulative points.

Graduate students are expected to complete a term paper in addition to taking all three exams. A topic for the paper should be chosen in consultation with the instructor. The completed research paper should be 15 to 20 pages long (double spaced and typewritten) and submitted no later than the last day of classes.