Note: this minor starts in block 3.
Aims and content
In the minor Middle Eastern Studies, we study the manifold connections between the countries around the Mediterranean Sea. Emphasis is placed on the countries in the eastern Mediterranean and in the modern Middle East. This is the region in which many of today’s global conflicts are rooted. In the minor, we examine the background and reasons for these conflicts. To what extent can we explain contemporary problems in this region in terms of the region’s internal political, economic, cultural and religious dynamics? To what extent should the history of Western colonialism and neo-imperialism be factored into such explanations? The minor seeks to provide students with solid basic knowledge over the creation and historical development of the modern Middle East, but also to familiarise them with the approaches and methods employed in Middle Eastern Studies to interpret the history, religious landscape and political systems in the region..
Course 1 (blok 3, The Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East) takes as its point of departure processes of reform and modernization in the late Ottoman Empire (18th and 19th centuries) and its demise in the early 20th century. On this background, the course sheds light on the entanglement of politics, religion and ethnic identity in the region, but also on the impact of Western powers. In addition, the course introduces students to scholarly approaches in Middle Eastern Studies, to its cultures and religions, and to its conflicts in historical perspective. This includes a critical appraisal of hackneyed terms and binaries, such as the east/west dichotomy, the ‘clash of civilizations’ thesis, and the very concept of ‘the Middle East’ itself.
Course 2 (blok 4, Religion and Modernities in the Modern Middle East) zooms in on the role of religion. The religion with the greatest number of followers in the modern Middle East is Islam. In this course, we examine the many different ways in which Muslims in the 19th and 20th centuries reacted to the increasing cultural and political influence of the West. We also study the role of Christianity in the modern Middle East. Attention is paid to the century-old Christian communities in the region (Marionites, Copts, and others) as well as to Western Christian mission in the colonial and postcolonial periods. Finally, we examine the position of Judaism and discuss the role of religion in the Palestianian-Israeli conflict.
Course 3 (blok 1, European Imperialisms and the Middle East, 1798-1945) focuses on economic and political aspects, in contrast to course 2, which looked at the cultural and religious roots of conflict in the Middle East. This course emphasizes Europe’s economic and political influence in the region, especially in the period from Napoleon’s invasion of Egypt in 1798 up to WW2. Between the two world wars, special attention is paid to the emergence of Arab, Turkish and Persian nationalism, as well as the role of ‘petro-p
Course 4 (blok 2, The Middle East after 1945) analyses major issues in the contemporary history of the Middle East, from the late 1940s through to the 2011 Arab uprisings and the later rise of ISIL. Does it make sense to use the state as our main unit of analysis when studying the region? What links together Israel and its alleged arch-enemies in the Gulf? What do we talk about when we speak of ‘totalitarianism’ in the Middle East? In this course, we will look at the history and politics of the Middle East after 1945. We will focus on key political developments that shaped the history of the region, including the rise of political Islam, the onset and global reverberations of the Arab-Israeli and Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the unintended consequences of Western interventions in the region.
The minor Middle East consists of four compulsory courses (30 EC).