Fall 2021

Power, Politics, and the Middle East

Listed in: Political Science, as POSC-247

Moodle site: Course


Basileus Zeno (Sections 01 and 02)


The Middle East is often represented as a region plagued with endless wars, ethnic and religious violence, superstition and ignorance, subjugation, and authoritarianism, but what is the Middle East? What explains the prevalence and persistence of these views among politicians, journalists and even academics? How has Eurocentrism and Orientalism influenced our understanding of the historical development of Arab cultures, politics, and societies? How were states formed during and after colonization? What explains “sectarianism,” and the resiliency of authoritarian regimes in the region? Why did the “Arab Spring” happen, and what hope is there for people’s movements in the region? How and why do ordinary people revolt against authoritarianism in the Middle East? How has American foreign policy facilitated the rise of Islamist movements, such as ISIS and al-Qaeda? This course aims to provide students with a critical perspective of regional politics by examining these key questions and debates surrounding the study of Middle Eastern politics, power, and knowledge production. We will integrate case studies of the region and engage with theoretical and conceptual debates. Throughout the course, we will use as sources the vast expanse of literature produced and explore representations of the Middle East and North Africa in popular culture, including films, documentaries, media, and political discourse. This course assumes no prior background knowledge of the region and is thus suitable for students with varying levels of familiarity of Middle East politics.

Limited to 18 students. Fall Semester. Karl Loewenstein Fellow and Visiting Lecturer Zeno.

If Overenrolled: Priority given to first-years and sophomores.


Attention to Issues of Class, Attention to Issues of Gender and Sexuality, Attention to Issues of Social Justice, Attention to Research, Attention to Speaking, Attention to Writing


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2021