This course will discuss the emergence of the modern Middle East from the fall of the Ottoman Empire, at the end of the First World War to the present. It will discuss the Ottoman legacy in the region and the Western imperial impact on the creation of the Arab state system. The course will discuss the rise and retreat of Arab nationalism, the problems of internal cohesion of the Arab states, issues of religion and state, and the evolution of Islamist politics. It will also focus on the evolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict and its impact on the region and will conclude with an in depth analysis of the “Arab Spring” by placing these contemporary revolutionary events in their historical context.
Intro In our first lesson, we will locate the Middle East in time and space. We will get to know the 19th-century Middle East, the structure of its society and economy as well as the dynamics of its politics. We will then look into the dramatic change that took place in the last quarter of the 18th century, that is the widening gap between Europe and the Middle East as we will dwell on the impact this change had on the future of the region. We will conclude our first lesson with a discussion on the "Eastern Question," which refers to the fate of the Ottoman Empire and the balance of power in Europe.
Modernity, Tradition and the Age of Reform Our second lesson is a discussion on the forces of modernity and tradition in the Middle East. The filtering of European ideas into the Middle East engendered a process of reform in the region throughout much of the 19th century. We will analyse two centres of reform in this respect, namely the Ottoman Empire and Egypt. This analysis will take us next to the Islamic responses to the crisis of modernity as a result of the inherent tension between faith and secularism. We will see how various Islamic thinkers tried to find a compromise between these obvious tensions and at times went in more fundamentalist directions.
The Rise of Nationalism; The Demise of Empire In lesson three, we will witness the rise of nationalism in the Middle East, as it became a much more acceptable idea in the late 19th and early 20th century among an intellectual, elitist, urban minority, who were the graduates of western-style schools (remember lesson two and the process of reform!). We will concentrate on the emergence and development of three nationalist movements; Turkish, Egyptian and Arab. Lastly, we will speak about the First World War and how it brought the end of the Ottoman Empire as well as the end of 400 years of Ottoman Turkish rule in the Arab countries. We will also see how the Middle East began to take its current shape following the First World War.
The Creation of the Middle East State System In our fourth lesson, we will be speaking about the creation of the Middle East state system in accordance with British and French designs after the First World War. First, we will discuss Egypt and how its distinct historical development gave way to a unique liberal experiment in Egypt during the 1920s and 1930s and consequently to a steady shift toward Islam and Arab nationalism. Second, we will discuss the area of the Fertile Crescent in comparison to Egypt and the creation of British (Palestine, Trans-Jordan, Iraq) and French mandates (Syria, Greater Lebanon) in this region. Our attention will then shift to the non-Arab states. We will learn about the creation of the Republic of Turkey on the ruins of the Ottoman Empire and the sweeping process of modernising reform under Mustafa Kemal. Lastly, we will take a look at Iran, which was, like Turkey, not a new state created by the Great Powers but a country with a long history and cultural tradition. Our discussion on Iran will include an overview of its history from early 16th century onwards as well as the basic principles of the Shi'a which shaped greatly the political culture in Iran.
A concise, balanced, and fascinating overview of the history of this tumultuous region. Gain an understanding how the Middle East got to where it is, and how political Islam is likely to shape its future.
MOOCs stand for Massive Open Online Courses. These arefree online courses from universities around the world (eg. StanfordHarvardMIT) offered to anyone with an internet connection.
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MOOCs are designed for an online audience, teaching primarily through short (5-20 min.) pre recorded video lectures, that you watch on weekly schedule when convenient for you. They also have student discussion forums, homework/assignments, and online quizzes or exams.
Doris Smithcompleted this course, spending 2 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.
(This review applies equally to the two halves of the course. As an aside, I don't understand why the course was split in two. It's unnatural and unnecessary.)
A fascinating overview of the history of the Middle East over the past two+ centuries (since Napoleon's invasion of Egypt in 1798). He covers the rise of nationalism, the role of political Islam, the high-handed and arbitrary geographical division of the Middle East following WWI, the establishment of Israel, and (briefly) the Arab Spring.
In particular, in his discussion of the Israeli - Palestinian conflict, he seems to be fair-minded and objective, favoring neither side. (Although I don't know if any Palestinians or Israelis would agree with that perception!)
Rooswilhelmcompleted this course, spending 3 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.
Recommended! The course offers a very interesting overview of the history of the region. Lots of countries and trends are discussed so - especially if you're new to this - keep a pen and notebook at hand. I recently found myself going over my notes of last year to make a little more sense of current events. If you feel (like I do) that news coverage on the region often doesn't include the necessary contextual info or the historical timeline, then you will definitely appreciate this course.
PS I did the course when it wasn't yet split into two parts so this review counts for both part I and II>
Diego Riccardicompleted this course, spending 4 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.
Has been very interesting. Middle East's history is very puzzled but still worth of attention considering the recent wars there and the so-called Arab Spring. I hope to attend a similar course led by an Arab staff in the future.
Stacey Bond Shinskecompleted this course, spending 3 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.
You will want to pull out the trusty pen and notebook and take good notes! A lot of information is given but it is well ordered and very fascinating. Great overview if you're a history buff or interested in the Middle East!