Revolutions and Uprisings in the Middle East

Key information

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Module code
FHEQ Level
Department of Politics and International Studies

Module overview

In what ways have revolutions, uprisings and popular mobilizations shaped everyday life and the modern state in the Middle East? This module will address this question by examining the politics, processes, fortunes, and cultural production of revolutions and uprisings in the Middle East in the contemporary period. The module utilises a 'history from below' approach to centre the narratives of peasants, workers, students unionists, feminists, leftists, nationalists in our study of the Middle East region. The module locates the uprising studied within their local and global contexts, and encourages students to trace patterns across different periods, from the colonial to the current era.

The module begins with a focus on the anti-colonial movements, leading up to and including the Arab Uprisings (1st and 2nd waves). Drawing on works on Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Oman, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Sudan and Yemen we will situate our discussions in the context of theoretical studies of resistance, hegemony, and domination.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

On successful completion of this module a student will be able to:

  • Demonstrate knowledge of the broader historical narratives and theoretical approaches to the study of revolutions and uprisings
  • Articulate some of the major material, discursive, and political developments that have shaped social movements in the Middle East
  • Demonstrate familiarity with specific case studies of uprisings, revolutions, riots and strikes in the Middle East
  • Employ critical reading, writing and presentation skills, including reading primary historical sources and assessing the cultural production of revolutionairy movements


2 hours seminar per week

Scope and syllabus

  1. Introduction: History from Below Approaches
  2. Anti-colonial Revolution - Algeria and Egypt
  3. Popular Politics and Military Coups - Iraq and Syria
  4. Strikes and Revolts - Mandate Palestine
  5. Oil and Revolutions - Saudi Arabia, Iran
  6. Ideology and Revolution (1): Marxism in Oman and Yemen
  7. Ideology and Revolution (2): Nationalism in the Palestinian Intifadas
  8. Arab Uprisings (1) Public Space and Cultural Production - Tunisia and Egypt
  9. Arab Uprisings (2) Revolution and Counter-revolution - Syria and Libya
  10. Arab Uprisings (3) A New Regional Status Quo? Sudan, Lebanon, Algeria

Method of assessment

Assessment is 100% coursework (one 1500 word essay worth 40% and one 3000 word essay worth 60%).

Suggested reading

  • Hanna Batatu. The Old Social Classes and the Revolutionary Movements of Iraq (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1978).
  • Beinin, Joel. Workers and Peasants in the Modern Middle East. Cambridge: Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001
  • Swedenburg, Ted. Memories of revolt: The 1936–1939 rebellion and the Palestinian national past. University of Arkansas Press, 2003.
  • Tripp, Charles. The power and the people: Paths of resistance in the Middle East. Cambridge University Press, 2013.
  • Ismail, Salwa. The rule of violence: Subjectivity, memory and government in Syria. Vol. 50. Cambridge University Press, 2018.
  • Abdelrahman, Maha. Egypt's long revolution: protest movements and uprisings. Routledge, 2014.
  • Hanieh, Adam. Lineages of revolt: Issues of contemporary capitalism in the Middle East. Haymarket books, 2013.
  • Chalcraft, John. Popular Politics in the Making of the Modern Middle East, Cambridge University Press, 2016


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