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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Postgrad (School of Social and Political Studies)

Postgraduate Course: Political Contestation in the Middle East (PGSP11527)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryPolitical Contestation in the Middle East examines the role of social movements and other forms of collective action in Middle East and North African politics. It explores how movements of people challenge, reinforce and create new centres of authority in the region. We will engage with theoretical literature on contentious politics and use examples drawn from the Middle East to engage with broader debates on the emergence of class-based and nationalist mobilisation, Islam and revolution, the dynamics of violence, gender-based mobilisation, settler colonialism, and environmental activism. We also explore the implications of the Covid-19 pandemic for political contestation in the region. Students are encouraged to explore and compare cases beyond the essential readings in their essays and independent research.
Course description The course explores the drivers, dimensions and legacies of political contestation in the Middle East and North Africa. It explores how movements of people have challenged or reinforced centres of, particularly state, authority in the region and how states have responded to contentious episodes. Political contestation of various forms has been a key factor in the transition of the Middle East from colonial rule to independence. Authoritarian regimes not only emerged and consolidated power in the context of revolutionary and liberation movements, but have also been challenged by new episodes of contention from the Iranian Revolution to the Arab Spring and beyond. Mobilisations on the basis of class, nation, gender, territorial claims and religion have been a constant feature of Middle Eastern and North African politics over the course of the 20th century up until the present. The course examines cases and themes related to political contestation in the region from the twilight of the Ottoman Empire until the present day. Central issues to be tackled include the ways in which political subjectivities have been formed and transformed in different part of the region over time; the role and abiding legacy of violence within and among Middle East and North African states; the ways in which ideologies have been articulated and agendas frame; and the way dynamics at global, regional, national and local levels have combined to shape political contestation.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2020/21, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  50
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 176 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Presentation and essay (30%): Students will make a presentation comparing at least two Middle Eastern social movements, to be accompanied by a written essay of no more than 1500 words. The presentation wil not receive a mark, but the student will receive written feedback from the course organiser on its form and substance.

Long essay (70%): Students will devise their own question in consultation with the course organiser. They will be encouraged to reflect on how Middle East cases can inform or enrich broader debates on social movements and contentious politics.
Feedback Not entered
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate a knowledge and understanding of the literature on political contestation in the Middle East, as well as a critical understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of social science theories as related to contentious politics in the region
  2. Creatively apply theories to cases of political contestation in the Middle East and demonstrate critical awareness of contextual specificities
  3. Develop creative or original approaches to the analysis and comparison of episodes of contention in, and potentially beyond, the Middle East
  4. Synthesise findings from study of political contestation in the Middle East with broader debates on contentious politics
Reading List
Beinin, Joel, and Frédéric Vairel. Social Movements, Mobilization, and Contestation in the Middle East and North Africa. Stanford University Press, 2011.

Chalcraft, John. Popular Politics in the Making of the Modern Middle East. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press, 2016.

Moghadam, Valentine M. Globalization and Social Movements Islamism, Feminism, and the Global Justice Movement. 2nd edition. Globalization. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2012.

Tilly, Charles, and Sidney Tarrow. Contentious Politics. Oxford University Press, 2015.

Tripp, Charles. The Power and the People Paths of Resistance in the Middle East. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills - Critically analyse literature on contentious politics in the Middle East
- Communicate orally their own ideas on contentious politics, and engage constructively with those of their peers.
- Work independently, and in consultation with others, to identify and scope an area of research and devise a research question on issues related to political contestation in the Middle East.
Additional Class Delivery Information The course is delivered via weekly 2-hour seminar, where the emphasis is on discussion and collective exploration of themes and topics, as well as assessed student presentations. Each session will begin with a (very brief) introduction by the course organiser, framing key themes and issues relating to the topic of the week. This introductory talk will NOT summarise or evaluate the assigned readings, which will form the basis of subsequent student-led discussions. Some of the 2-hours will also involve smaller group activities and discussion.

Political Contestation in the Middle East is delivered in parallel with the UG honours course Social Movements and Collective Action in the Middle East. In addition to the required seminar, PG students are strongly advised to attend the weekly UG lecture (Thursdays, 9AM). Lecture slides will be made available on the course LEARN page.
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Ewan Stein
Tel: (0131 6)50 4264
Course secretaryMrs Casey Behringer
Tel: (0131 6)50 2456
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