HIST 307
To Die For? Nationalism in the Middle East Spring 2025
Division II Difference, Power, and Equity
Cross-listed ARAB 307

Class Details

In 1932, or twelve years into his rule and twelve years after the establishment of Iraq, King Faysal I lamented that there were “no Iraqi people but only unimaginable masses of human beings, devoid of any patriotic idea, imbued with religious traditions and absurdities, connected by no common tie.” This course will consider how true the King’s statement still holds by evaluating the various attempts at state and nation building in the modern Middle East. Some of the more prominent questions that this course will examine include: What is a nation? What are the essential characteristics of a nation? Who are a people? Why are people ready to die for the nation? And who is included and excluded in the nationalist narrative? After assessing some of the more influential theories of nationalism, we will explore the historical experience of nationalism and national identity in Egypt, Israel, Turkey, Palestine, Iran, and Iraq. What has been at the basis of nationhood? How did European concepts of nation translate into the Middle Eastern context? What was the role of religion in these modern societies? How do traditional notions of gender effect concepts of citizenship? We will also explore some of the unresolved issues facing the various nations of the Middle East, such as unfulfilled nationalist aspirations, disputes over land and borders, and challenges to sovereignty.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 20
Expected: 15
Class#: 3458
Grading: yes pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: There will be several options to fulfill the requirements of this course including a weekly journal, oral exam or a final research paper (12-15 pages).
Prerequisites: None.
Enrollment Preferences: History and Arabic Studies majors, Global Studies concentrators, seniors, and students with a demonstrated interest in the Middle East.
Distributions: Division II Difference, Power, and Equity
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
HIST 307 Division II ARAB 307 Division II
DPE Notes: This course examines the power of the state to decide who is included and not included in the nationalist narrative. How does it seek to promote unity and how does it explain differences within and outside of society? Though nationalism can be a very powerful unifying factor, this course will also consider examples where nationalism has the opposite effect.
Attributes: HIST Group E Electives - Middle East

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