Indiana University Bloomington
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States and Societies in Central and Southwest Asia
Catalog Number CEUS-U 797
Nazif Shahrani

In this seminar relationship between the institutions of state and civil society in the newly independent countries of Muslim Central Asia, Afghanistan, Iran and Turkey will be comparatively examined. Varying concepts, structures, political economies, and ideological justifications for the historically extant and changing forms of states in the region will be discussed. The consequences of differing interventionist state policies such as extraction and distribution of goods and services, administrative integration, as well as production of knowledge, formation of personal and collective identities (ethnic, national, etc.), and the shaping of political discourses will be explored. Forms of resistance within civil societies to state interventions and the resulting impact upon the organizational structure and functions of states and "nation-building" processes, will also be systematically examined. The first part of the seminar will be devoted to the critical reading and discussion of: a) general theoretical and methodological literature on relationships between states and societies, both in the West and in the Muslim world; and b) a significant body of recent historical and ethnographic studies on the region. The second part of the seminar will consist of student project presentations.

Required Readings (Some titles may vary):

Course Requirements:

A critical written report of the reading assignments for each week (about 2-3 double spaced typewritten pages) highlighting the most significant points (positive and negative) about the authors' approach in the text(s). These brief weekly reviews are due in my office by 1:00pm on Wednesdays. Students are also expected to actively participate in class discussions, lead class discussions, make an oral presentation of the term project, and submit a term paper on the term project. The term project will consist of a review essay consisting of: 1) critical reading, detailed assessment and synthesis of all required readings for the seminar; and 2) serious and reasoned reflection on how the theoretical, conceptual, methodological and substantive issues covered in this seminar will (or will not) be useful to your own specific topics or fields of research interests and why. The final essay should be about 20 typed pages (double-spaced).