This graduate seminar is designed to introduce Council on Middle East Studies (CMES) graduate certificate students, International Relations master’s students, and doctoral students from Anthropology, History, Political Science, and other disciplines, to some of the most important contemporary cultural and political issues shaping life in the Middle East and North Africa. The course aims for broad regional coverage, with particular focus on several important nation-states (e.g., Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq) and Western interventions in them. Students should emerge from the course with a keener sense of Middle Eastern regional histories and contemporary social issues, as described by leading scholars in the field of Middle Eastern Studies and particularly Middle Eastern Anthropology.

Following an historical introduction, the course is organized around three core themes—Islam, Politics, Modernity—with movement from the macropolitical level of Islamic discourse and state politics to the most intimate domains of gender, family life, and contemporary youth culture.  Through reading, thinking, talking, and writing about a series of book-length monographs, students in this course will gain broad exposure to a number of exigent issues in the Middle Eastern region, as well as to the ethnographic methodologies and critical theories of anthropologists, historians, and political scientists. Students will be graded on seminar participation, leadership of seminar discussions, two review/analysis papers, and a comparative written review of two books.