Modern Middle East (1S)


The region of the Middle East seems to overflow with unresolved historical tension over borders, ethnicity, religion, denomination, and numerous foreign policy conundrums over the last century. Some suggest the combustibility of the region is ultimately a result of Western imperialism; others point to the centrality of oil and the West’s desire for democratic allies to promote trade and help them access resources and markets. Still other schools of thought identify religious and cultural factors as the most volatile forces at play. Regardless of these disparate perspectives, the complex factual narrative is only half of the problem for anyone trying to understand the Middle East in the 21st century. There is also the matter of different assumptions and biases that have influenced Western understanding (and misunderstanding) of the region over time. This class is designed to face all these challenges head-on. We will take a close look at the turning points in the region’s history since 1919, and aim to develop a nuanced picture of the forces at work today.

Note: Honors option available to juniors and seniors.

Prerequisites: Open to juniors and seniors, and sophomores if space is available.