Anthropology | Peoples & Cultures of the Middle East
E397 | 27444 | 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 unrest.
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
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.