The Middle East has long been a region of particular interest for scholars of politics. From the 2010/2011 Arab revolutions to the emergence of ISIS and the Syrian refugee crisis, it is a region that continues to fill news bulletins and raise questions about the future of the global order. Its long history as well as its strategic geographic location have rendered it central to global economic and political processes. The modern period is no exception, with the emergence of the oil monarchies in the Gulf, radical decolonization movements across the region, and the most recent wave of uprisings that began in 2010 in Tunisia. Despite the importance of the region, however, it remains an area that confounds many. Scholarly approaches to the Middle East have often tended to ignore history and global factors, including the role of colonialism and global power politics in shaping the region. This module departs from these approaches by using postcolonial and critical understandings of politics to understand social, economic and political change, thereby challenging Eurocentric, essentialized and ahistorical understandings of the region.
The broad aim of this module is to delve into the political and social history of the modern Middle East by looking at politics through the lens of culture and identity, including gender, race, class, sexuality, nation and religion. The module challenges essentialized understandings of culture and identity in order to reveal the complex and dynamic ways in which these categories have been shaped by political and geopolitical processes. In addition, the module explores the role of culture and identity in shaping processes of authoritarianism, repression, resistance and revolution. This module offers an exciting and innovative window into a region that continues to be central to global politics.