Spring 2021 Class Schedule
MENA 290-3-20/ANTHRO 290-0-23: Islam, Gender, & Minorities in Turkey and the Middle East
In the Western media, Turkey has been represented with the essentialist images and stereotypes of an exotic culture (harem, belly dancing, oil wrestling), an unstable political regime threatened by the remnants of the past (Islamism, ignorance, darkness), and the supposed oppression of women (hijab, honor killings) frequently used to describe Middle Eastern countries. Yet it has also been portrayed as a Europeanized outlier (a badge of honor claimed by most Middle Eastern countries), “a bridge between East and West” (a cliché also adopted by Eastern European countries, Russia, Iran, Singapore, and the Philippines), an exemplar of moderate Islam and multi-cultural tolerance, and once even an inspiration for the phrase “Turkish model of democracy”. We will begin this class by exploring why these seemingly contrasting depictions of Turkey are in fact the two sides of the same coin, and how they conceal the colonial and national histories, political dynamics, and global economic inequalities. Drawing on ethnography, social history, and film, we will we will do comparative readings of the historical and contemporary regimes, events, and social movements in Turkey and the Middle East. Taking Turkey’s “exceptional” status as a vantage point, we will explore the pressing political issues of the MENA region such as gender inequalities, the question of minorities, the effects of war, relationships with Europe as well as ideologies like feminism, nationalism, and political Islam. The aim of the course is to provide the students with an intellectual background and perspective so that they can situate their knowledge of Turkey in the broader in the Middle East, and build informed opinions about the future of this region.
MENA 390-3-20/ANTHRO 390-0-25: Porous Borders? Geography, Power, and Techniques of Movement
At the advent of increased globalization some scholars have argued that the movements of capital, commodities and people across nation-states have rendered their borders increasingly more porous. The death of the nation-state was announced elsewhere. Yet, in the epoch of offshored refugee processing centers and border walls, this assumed porosity of borders begs a reexamination of broader geographies of power and tactics of movement. In this course, we examine the historically and geographically specific constellations of borders and ask: How does the border become an architecture of regulation that extends access to mobility to some and denies it to others? what is a border? Is it the physical line drawn between two states? Who gets to draw these lines? Is a state border a given result of a natural and ethnic contract or the terrain of constant contestation or negotiation in global and international affairs? This course examines these questions by proposing to reconceptualize border as equally the product of mobile social actors, contraband commodities and fluctuating values as they are of state policies aimed at managing these movements. By the end of the course students will be well-versed in diverse theories of space and informed to articulate what an attention to space and the relations of power inscribed in particular processes of territorial production can contribute to ethnographic and historical inquiry.
MENA 390-3-22/ASIAN AM 303-0-2/AM ST 310-0-22: U.S. Media Representations of the Middle East
In this course, we will explore the evolving ways in which the Middle East is visually represented in the United States from the mid-twentieth century to the present, post-9/11 era. This area has been depicted in film and image in conflicting ways: exotic, criminal, irrational, oppressive, barbaric, fantastical…This course will examine the ways in which visual culture shapes understandings and legitimizes knowledge of Southwest Asia/North Africa and its communities that ultimately bolster U.S. geopolitical interests and imperial ambition. Through discussing film, television, and photographic journalism alongside critical works of cultural analysis, we will work through how cultural objects come to function as salient social and political texts that pervade U.S. publics and how they deploy issues of race, gender and sexuality. We will begin with foundational theoretical texts that will shape our readings of representations of Southwest Asia/North Africa throughout the course. The majority of the term will then revolve around cultural objects and critical texts that shape meanings of Southwest Asia/North Africa in the United States. We will then end with a look at ways in which Southwest Asians/North Africans in the diaspora use visual culture to counter these monolithic representations.
MENA 390-6-20/SPANISH 397-0-2/ANTHRO 390-0-26/JWSH ST 390-0-3: Jews and Muslims in Contemporary Spain
This undergraduate seminar examines the shifting place of Jews and Muslims in contemporary Spain. Together, we will explore several interrelated questions: (1) How have “Spain” and “Europe” variously been defined as modern, white, Christian, or secular by figuring Jews and Muslims as others? (2) How have these terms and the forms of life and history that they purport to represent changed over time? (3) What are the similarities and differences between the “Jewish Question” and the “Muslim Problem”? (4) How do Jews and Muslims understand themselves in relation to Spain, Europe, and to each other? At a time when racism, antisemitism, Islamophobia, and right-wing populist movements are ascendant in Spain and across Europe, we will work collaboratively to not only answer these questions, but to formulate new ones. To do so, we will consult scholarship in anthropology, history, cultural theory, and philosophy as well as on fiction, film, and journalism as resources. Throughout the term, we will be especially attuned to the forms of inclusion and exclusion that have affected Jews and Muslims in Spain, always with an eye toward how such abstractions come to matter in everyday life.
MENA 411-0-20: Field Formations and Key Concepts
Course description TBA
MENA 490-0-20/POLI SCI 490-0-29: Islamic Political Thought
This graduate-level seminar explores the origins and development of modern and contemporary Islamic political thought. What is "modern" about Islamic revivalism and how does it shape Islamic activism? How did Islamic political thought evolve and adapt to changing political circumstances within Muslim societies in an increasingly globalized world? We draw from intellectual history, comparative politics and political theory to examine some of the major ideological currents, political movements and intellectual figures who sought, since the end of the late 19th century, to reconstruct the political and social dimensions of Muslim societies and countries along Islamic lines. The course focuses on the intellectual origins of the resurgence and spread of "political Islam". Our readings include primary sources in translation as well as secondary sources from history, Islamic studies, political science, and anthropology. Topics include: decline and revival, Islamic reform, Islam and modernity, rationality, ijtihad (Islamic legal independent reasoning), Shura (deliberative decision- making), Muslim unity, pan-Islamism, Secularism, Sharia, Caliphate, Fundamentalism, Islamic state, Democracy, Islam and the West, Gender (in) equality, Liberal Islam, Human rights, Violence, Jihad...
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