What do we mean by the Middle East – east of where, and why? How should we go about studying the political aspirations and agency of almost half a billion people? To what extent are their fates tied to great power politics, and how can we account for phenomena of cooperation and solidarity in their regional affairs? Can we draw a clear line between the local and the global in Middle East politics?
This module will help students deliberate all these questions, by placing the modern Middle East in its global context without losing sight of local and regional dynamics, cultures, and political traditions. We will explore histories of empire and decolonisation, alongside themes of hegemony and resistance, conflict and cooperation, identity and foreign policy. The module is informed by critical engagement with theories of international relations.
The course begins with an exploration of the different historical phases of interaction between Middle East states and the international system. These are divided into the colonial, decolonisation, and post-Cold War periods. Lectures and tutorials will cover the early settler colonies, Britain’s informal empire in the Gulf, and the Anglo-French mandates, as well as the emergence of Turkey and Israel, and the challenge represented by the pan-Arabist revolutionary states, followed by discussion of the Middle East’s place in the post-Cold War unipolar era. We will discuss each of these phases in tandem with relevant paradigms from international relations theory used to study the Middle East in its international context. The module then moves to tackle key themes in international relations, such as transnationalism, international political economy, and the politics of security, before taking a closer look at key actors in regional foreign policy making. It closes by addressing contemporary challenges that have arisen since the Arab uprisings. Over the three weeks, module activities, debates, and fieldtrips will enhance both teaching and learning on the module.
On successful completion of the module, students should be able to:
- Demonstrate familiarity and critical engagement with the theories of international relations and foreign policy analysis relevant to themes in Middle East regional and international politics;
- Demonstrate a strong grasp of the history of the region since its emergence as a modern state system at the turn of the last century;
- Demonstrate familiarity with the relevant theoretical debates and empirical cases pertaining to issues of Middle East regional and international politics;
- Marshal empirical evidence in argument-driven presentations in class
- Inspire students to continue with further study or interest in the Middle East.
The unique and vibrant cultural landscape of London provides the perfect setting for the activities that complement this module. These usually include a guided tour of the Mosaic Rooms Gallery and QnA with the Director, a guided tour of the British Museum’s Islamic Art Gallery and QnA with its lead Curator, film screenings followed by discussion, and seminars delivered by human rights practitioners and democracy activists from the Middle East. The activities are designed to enhance learning outcomes, and to foster rapport within the classroom, forming some of the highlights of the course. Activities’ precise times and venues are confirmed in the month prior to the start of the module.
Dr Reem Abou-El-Fadl is Lecturer in Comparative Politics of the Middle East at SOAS, University of London. She teaches courses on the Comparative Politics and International Relations of the Middle East, and is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. She was previously Lecturer at Durham University and Jarvis Doctorow Junior Research Fellow at St Edmund Hall, University of Oxford.
Her research examines nationalism and foreign policy in Turkey and Egypt, and the politics of transnational solidarity and pan-Arabism in Egypt, comparing the Nasser and Sadat periods. She is the author of Foreign Policy as Nation Making: Turkey and Egypt in the Cold War published in 2018 by Cambridge University Press. She is also the editor of Revolutionary Egypt: Connecting Domestic and International Struggles (Routledge, 2015), and co-editor of the Egypt page at jadaliyya, the academic e-zine of the Arab Studies Institute. Her work has appeared in Nations and Nationalism, British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, Journal of Palestine Studies, and the International Journal of Transitional Justice, among other venues.
Students are usually able to obtain credits from their home institution and typically our courses receive 3 credits in the US system and 7.5 ECTS in the European system. If you intend to claim credits from your home institution, please check the requirements with them before you enrol. We will be happy to assist you in any way we can, however please be aware that the decision to award credits rests with your home institution.
Assessment will be optional and will vary for each course. Participants will be provided with a certificate of attendance and a Record of Study will be available on request.
For more information, please fill out our enquiries form
Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings
Start of programme: 1 July - 19 July 2019
Mode of Attendance: Full-time
- 3 weeks
Tuition Fees 2019
- Tuition fee:
Dr Reem Abou-El-Fadl Convenor