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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
SummaryThe popular uprisings that swept across the Middle East in 2011, and whose effects are still being felt, focussed scholarly, media and policy attention on the agency of Arab societies. Labels for the protests like the 'Arab Spring' or 'Arab Awakening' suggest that the peoples of the region were hitherto passive, or even asleep. In reality, however, social, political and economic structures in the Middle East have always been challenged, and the contemporary characteristics of the region stem, in large part, from past patterns of contestation. In the Middle East, political contestation has been central to the construction of political and social subjectivities (whether defined in class, national, religious, sectarian, gender or other terms) and played out within a range of social and institutional arenas: states, civil society, 'the street' and militaries, to name but a few. This course examines some key forms of political contestation that have shaped, and continue to shape, political and social realities in the Middle East.
Course description Political contestation refers to the ideological, organisational and institutional forms people develop and use to dispute, reject or otherwise challenge established rules, norms or power relations. This course explores the dynamics of political contestation in the Middle East. It explores how people have challenged or reinforced centres of, particularly state, authority in the region and how states have responded and adapted to these challenges. Political contestation of various forms was 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 a range of country 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 of religion and sectarianism in contestation; gender-based mobilisation; and how 'formal' institutions of state--such as militaries, elections or political parties--have functioned as both arenas and instruments of 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
Not being delivered
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
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.
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Ewan Stein
Tel: (0131 6)50 4264
Course secretaryMrs Casey Behringer
Tel: (0131 6)50 2456
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