Market Politics: Political Economies of a Globalizing Middle East

Key information

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Module code
FHEQ Level
Department of Politics and International Studies

Module overview

This module examines the relationship between the economy and power in the Middle East. We examine the class formations, expert knowledge, trade networks, raw materials, institutions, legal regimes and ideologies that come to produce “the economy” in the modern Middle East, and their relationship to the production of power in society, with special attention to state-society relations. As it investigates these questions the module does not attempt to prescribe or find optimal pathways towards “development” or economic “modernization” but instead maps out power relations in a globalizing Middle East. The module is especially focused on mapping the licit and illicit networks through which people, ideas, financial flows and technologies circulate within and outside the region to shape the making of the region's economies. Tracing these circuits over time, we examine the ways in which the Middle East has always been globally-connected and the new dynamics that contemporary "globalization" creates. The module tackles these questions chronologically, investigating a) the nature of colonial economies and capitalist transitions, b) post-colonial economies with a focus on Import-Substitution Industrialization, and c) the impacts of neo-liberalization and globalization on the contemporary political economy of the Middle East, whilst dedicating a section d) to the political economies of oil as a uniquely abundant raw material with dramatic impacts on the region.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

  • Grasp the basic tenets and building blocks of theoretical approaches to the study of political economy
  • Appreciate the unique analytical tools that studying political economy affords to the study of Middle East politics
  • Gain familiarity with the diverse analytical and methodological approaches to the study of Middle Eastern political economies
  • Develop a nuanced understanding of the peoples, ideas, institutions, and geographies that shape the making of Middle Eastern economies
  • Appreciate the thickness and global expanse of the economic networks and connections through which power dynamics are produced in the Middle East


This module is taught over 10 weeks with:

  • 2 hour seminars per week

Method of assessment

  • Assignment 1: Review Essay 35%
  • Assignment 2: Final Research paper 55%
  • Seminar participation: 10%

Suggested reading

  • Timothy Mitchell, Rule of Experts: Egypt, Techno-Politics, Modernity, (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002).
  • Gershon Shafir, Land, Labor and the Origins of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, 1882-1914, (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996)
  • Sherene Seikaly, Men of Capital: Scarcity and Economy in Mandate Palestine, (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2016).
  • Arang Keshavarzian, Bazaar and State in Iran: The Politics of the Tehran Marketplace, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007).
  • Kiren Chaudhry, The Price of Wealth: Economies and Institutions in the Middle East, (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1997).


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules