Fall 2020

Sex and Power in the Middle East

This course explores how intimacy and sexuality has been central to power and resistance in the Middle East. When have empires, colonial powers, and nation states tried to regulate intimacy, sex, love, and reproduction? How have sexual practices shaped social life at the popular and elite levels, and how have perceptions of these practices changed over time? How have ideas about sex been central to the construction of race, class, and gender in the region? In our readings and discussion, we will approach sexuality as a field of inquiry that relates feelings, thoughts, and behaviors (including but not limited to those now categorized as homo/ heterosexual) to policymaking, literary expression, law, empire, and the management of land and wealth. We will ask how bodies and intimacies have been key to imperial and state governance; to colonialism and nation-building; and to the politics and possibilities of transnational solidarity. We will consider how the study of sexuality reframes major themes in the social, cultural, and political history of the Middle East. (Please contact for Syllabus).

Introduction to the Modern Middle East

This course explores the history of the Middle East and North Africa region from the early 1800s until the present. We will examine some of the long and short-term transformations that shaped the region today, beginning from the perspectives of the region’s inhabitants. Starting at the end of the 1700s, people living in the region now referred to as the Middle East confronted and participated in new processes, many of which had global dimensions. These included: the rise of capitalism; new ways of thinking about religion and community; new structures of power and governance; the challenge of European imperialism; and new understandings of gender, class, and family life. As we work to understand these transformations, we will ask: how did people living at the time understand the changes around them? What claims were they making for a different world? (Please contact for syllabus)