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Sociology 950.005, graduate seminar, Spring 2013

Professor Charles Kurzman
Department of Sociology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Updated January 18, 2013
Class Sessions: Mondays, 9:00-11:50 p.m., 151 Hamilton Hall.
Office Hours: 227 Hamilton Hall, by appointment.

Course Goals:

  1. To introduce students to major trends in the study of Middle East politics.
  2. To develop undergraduate syllabi in Middle East politics.
  3. To select and test hypotheses from the literature on Middle East politics.

Course Requirements:

1) Attendance and Participation (20% of final grade)

Attendance means on-time arrival (at the scheduled hour); participation means the contribution of insightful comments on the basis of the assigned readings. If you cannot make it to class, please let me know in advance.

2) Weekly Reading Notes (30% of final grade)

Reading notes on the week’s readings are to be uploaded to the course’s Sakai page before the beginning of each class. These notes, approximately 600 words per book, should include (a) the full bibliographic citation of the work, (b) the main points of the reading, including summaries of each chapter; (c) definitions of major concepts and methods and examples of their use in the text, (d) significant quotations and items that you find interesting; (e) your reactions/questions/critiques/linkages with other authors/etc. (these analytical notes should be set aside from the descriptive notes via brackets or some other technique). Always give page references throughout; these notes will serve as your customized index to the reading. See a sample of my reading notes.

3) Syllabus (20% of final grade)

An undergraduate syllabus on Middle East Politics or a related subject, annotated with explanations for your choice of readings and themes, is to be uploaded to Sakai before the last class session.

4) Research Proposal

The research proposal, to be uploaded to Sakai before the last class session, should be approximately 2000 words in length and should propose an empirical investigation of a substantive hypothesis related to Middle East politics. The proposal should comprise:

(i) Title: a short and descriptive title; (ii) Summary: a 150-word paragraph summarizing the entire proposal; (iii) Literature: a 600-word discussion of the literature on the hypothesis you propose to test; (iv) Case Selection: a 250-word justification of your case selection; (v) Method: a 1000-word discussion of methodology, concluding with your preliminary findings and a discussion of how various anticipated findings would reflect on your hypothesis; and (vi) References: a list of references cited in the paper. See sample papers in a similar format from another course.


January 14: Introductions and planning

January 21: Holiday

January 28: Nation Building
Roger Owen, State, Power, and Politics, in the Making of the Modern Middle East, 3rd edition (Routledge, 2004).

February 4: Institution Building
Timothy Mitchell, Colonising Egypt (Cambridge, 1988).

February 11: No class

February 18: Military/Security
Steven Cook, Ruling But Not Governing (Johns Hopkins, 2007).

February 25: Enduring Authoritarianism
Eva Bellin, Stalled Democracy (Cornell, 2002).

March 4: Political Economy
Michael Ross, The Oil Curse (Princeton, 2012).

March 11: Holiday

March 18: Welfare State
Kevan Harris, The Martyrs’ Welfare State (dissertation, Johns Hopkins, 2012).

March 25: Elections
Lisa Blaydes, Elections and Distributive Politics in Mubarak’s Egypt (Cambridge, 2011).

April 1: Informal Politics
Salwa Ismail, Political Life in Cairo’s New Quarters (Minnesota, 2006).

April 8: Civil Society
Amaney Jamal, Barriers to Democracy (Princeton, 2007).

April 15: Revolutionary Violence
Wendy Pearlman, Violence, Nonviolence, and the Palestinian National Movement (Cambridge, 2011).

April 22: Islamic Identity
Olivier Roy, Globalised Islam (Columbia, 2004).

April 29: National Identity
Lisa Wedeen, Peripheral Visions (Chicago, 2008).

May 6: Personal Identity
Ay┼če Saktanber, Fragments of Culture (Rutgers, 2002).