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ARAB 408
Appropriating History. Who Owns the Past? Fall 2020
Division II Writing Skills Difference, Power, and Equity
Cross-listed HIST 489 / ARAB 408

Class Details

Who owns the past? How have modern states appropriated history? The political use of history is a critical ingredient in any nationalist discourse. In such narratives, the selective utilization of archaeology and ancient history often serves important functions in articulating a conscious and deliberate national history. Thus, in nationalist renderings, archaeological sites and artifacts are not merely relics of the past; they can also be potent and conspicuous symbols of national identity for the modern nation-state. In the Middle East, with its rich archaeological heritage, the relationship among politics, nationalism, and archeology has been particularly strong and interesting. This tutorial addresses the powerful nexus between history and nationalism with a special emphasis on the Middle East. It will explore the battle over who controls history and the “stuff” of history such as antiquities, land, heritage sites, and museum exhibitions and how that control has expressed itself in several Middle Eastern countries, including Iraq, Israel, Turkey, Egypt, Lebanon, and Iran. Furthermore, it will discuss how archaeology entered the political discourse, the ethics of repatriation and appropriation, and archaeology’s role in contested terrains and political disputes.
The Class: Format: tutorial; This tutorial can be taken entirely Remote. On campus students may request in-person tutorial sessions, pending the agreement of other students and the availability of appropriate rooms.
Limit: 10
Expected: 8
Class#: 2892
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: Format: tutorial. Requirements: 5-7 page essays or 2-3 response papers due each week
Prerequisites: None, though a demonstrated interest in the Middle East is important.
Enrollment Preferences: Seniors and to History and Arabic Studies majors.
Distributions: Division II Writing Skills Difference, Power, and Equity
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
HIST 489 Division II ARAB 408 Division II
WS Notes: As a tutorial, students will receive extensive feedback on their writing each week both from the professor and their partner. Further, students will be given the opportunity to rewrite two of their papers in light of the criticism that they receive during the semester.
DPE Notes: This is a tutorial on a particular form of power, namely how the powerful seek to control the past. The ultimate question that this tutorial seeks to answer is: who owns the past? Which history is emphasized and which histories are overlooked? How do modern nation states in different Middle Eastern states cherry-pick the past in order to maintain and develop a national narrative that is suitable to the political and economic powers often at the expense of religious or linguistic minorities.
Attributes: HIST Group E Electives - Middle East

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