COMP 223
Migrants at the Borders: Comparative Middle Eastern and Latin American Cultural Studies
Last Offered Spring 2013
Division I
Cross-listed COMP 223 / ARAB 223
This course is not offered in the current catalog or this is a previous listing for a current course.

Class Details

Why do the peoples and cultures of Latin America and the Middle East often elicit such passionate responses in the United States and Europe? Some feel threatened, while others are intrigued, but responses to these world regions are seldom neutral. Often seen as exotic and erotic, or as a danger to the way of life of Americans and Europeans, Islam, Arabs and Latin Americans are at the forefront of socio-political debates in the United States and Europe. The origins of this world-view are historical, but are also heavily influenced by contemporary immigration and international affairs. After characterizing Islam as the greatest contemporary threat to “Western” civilization in his infamous essay titled “The Clash of Civilizations,” Samuel Huntington subsequently found it necessary to focus on Latinos as the most significant threat to American civilization. By examining literature and film from the Middle East and Latin America, and from these immigrant communities in the United States and Europe, we will go beyond superficial images and inflammatory rhetoric to explore the cultures behind the passions. Among other things, the texts of this course examine the ties between the Arab world and Latin America, and between these two regions and their neighbors to the north. At the heart of this course are the ideas of borders and margins. What does it mean to cross borders or to live on the margins of society? The borders we will discuss will be geographic borders, but also cultural borders that will permit the exploration of the territories between life and death, civilization and barbarism, wealth and poverty, war and peace and other dichotomies that some employ to classify the world but that rarely allow for human sensibilities and the subtle experiences of being. Our texts may include works by writers such as Alurista, Victor Hernandez Cruz, Gloria Anzaldua, Juan Rulfo, Clarice Lispector, Milton Hatoum, Taher Ben Jelloun, Mohamad Choukri, Mahmoud Darwish, Laila Lalami and Tayyib Saleh that treat the human condition at the borders/margins of society. Films may include El Norte, La Mision, Pixote,Midaq Alley, City of God,, Battle of Algiers, My Beautiful Launderette, Crash, Hate and Head On. There will also be a course reader that includes theoretical material on orientalism, tropicalism, nationalism and transnationalism. All readings are in English translation and films have English subtitles.
The Class: Format: lecture/discussion
Limit: 25
Expected: 15-20
Class#: 3951
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: active class participation, two 3- to 5-page papers and a final research paper (7-10 pages) or half hour oral exam
Prerequisites: none
Distributions: Division I
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
COMP 223 Division I ARAB 223 Division I
Attributes: ARAB Arabic Studies Electives

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