Anthropology | PEOPLES AND CULTURES OF THE MIDDLE EAST
E397 | 0411 | Shahrani
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
Required Texts (Some titles may vary):
Dale Eickelman The Middle East and Central Asia: An Anthropological
Approach. 3rd edition
John Esposito Islam the Straight Path. Expanded Edition
Erika Friedl Women of Deh Koh: Lives in An Iranian Village.
Lawrence Rosen Bargaining for Reality: The Construction of Social
Relations in a Muslim Community.
William Lancaster The Rwala Bedouin Today.
There will be three examinations. All exams will be 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 worth 40 points. 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 class.