The Middle East: Paradoxes of Modernity & Democracy

Term: Spring 2009

Subject Code: GHIS

Course Number: 5124

In the modern era, the Middle East has been shaped by three great forces: Western domination; expansion of modern states and militaries; and popular demands for sovereignty, autonomy, inclusion and justice. State-sponsored reform movements, ranging from the Ottoman Tanzimat (Reorganization) to Kemalism, Nasserism and Ba�thism, to Islamism, have responded to exogenous and indigenous pressures with attempts to modernize political, economic and cultural institutions. But herein lays the paradox of modernity and democracy: statist reform movements have produced powerful bureaucracies and large militaries, but have failed to overcome economic stagnation or lead to democratic, egalitarian, just and free societies, thus calling into question assumptions that modernity and democracy are intrinsically linked. Beginning with an examination of Western and Muslim writers� views on state and society, this course explores historical relations between the Middle East and West; development of modern states and militaries in Turkey, Egypt, Iran and Iraq; and intellectual and popular resistance movements, to explore answers to the question: Is democracy possible in the 21st century Middle East? (Crosslisted with GPOL 5124.)


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