The nation-state has been the defining political, economic, and cultural entity of the last 100 years. The seeming permanence of nation-states has convinced most that the institution had always existed and that it is a “natural” entity. This seminar course will explore the development of nationalism and nation-states throughout the Middle East and North Africa in the late 19th and 20th centuries. Over the course of the semester, we will discuss the impact of the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, the repercussions of the colonial inter-war period, and the emergence of post-colonial nation states throughout the Middle East. We will pay special attention to the political, social, religious, legal, and economic ramifications of nationalism. Although nationalism’s hold on the Middle East remains strong, numerous transnational movements like the Islamic modernism, Arab Nationalism, Communism, and Islamism have begun to undermine the hold of the nation-state.
This is a writing-intensive course. Beyond familiarizing you with the history of nationalism in the Middle East and North Africa, our goal in this class is to develop your ability to read, write, and think critically, to analyze sources, and to deploy evidence to back up your arguments. You will be expected to read an average of 100 pages a week. This seminar course will have three major paper assignments: a 4-5 page response paper, a 6-8 page midterm paper, and a 10-page final research paper. In addition to your papers, class participation in seminar will be exceptionally important and comprise 20% of your total grade. Most readings will be posted on Collab. We will rely on William Cleveland’s History of the Modern Middle East as our textbook.