Near Eastern Languages and Cultures | Peoples and Cultures of the Middle East
N397 | 26533 | 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 (including terrorism).

Course Requirements
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 (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 is 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.

Required Texts
(Some titles may vary, please refer to the course syllabus for a
complete list.)

Eickelman, D. The Middle East: An Anthropological Approach (4th Ed.)
Esposito, J. Islam: The Straight Path (Revised New Edition)
Friedl, E. Women of Deh Koh: Lives in an Iranian Village