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Middle Eastern Traditions Spring 2014

Time: Tues - Thurs 12 noon - 1.15PM
Location: Sweeny Hall 240


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This course focuses on the Middle East and North Africa as a complex culture area encompassing shared and competing values, religious traditions, ethnicities, and ecological concerns. The goal of the course is to give students a framework for understanding, and even predicting, the lines of religious, cultural, and political conflict and alliances within the region and in the larger global context. We will begin by examining longstanding traditional patterns that persist, and are shared across ethnic, religious and regional boundaries. We will then explore the contribution this shared legacy has made to contemporary disputes in the region. In addition, we will examine cycles of religious revitalization, (and so-called fundamentalisms), competing ideologies, relations between minority and majority populations, and the legacy of pre-colonial, colonial, and post-colonial experiences on the peoples of the Middle East, as well as cultural, historical, and psychological dimensions which contribute to understanding—and misunderstanding—the complex dynamics of the region. The course will conclude with consideration of the viability of competing potential resolutions to current controversies in the region.