Islam and Politics in the Modern Middle East

The course critically examines the ideologies and political strategies of twentieth century Islamist movements, as well as their origins and evolution. It will relate the emergence of organized Islamist movements in the first part of the twentieth century to earlier Islamic reformist narratives, and explore the political and social contexts in which these movements emerged and evolved. Particular attention will be given to the ideas these movements developed and to the texts they published and disseminated. One component of the course is historical and seeks to cover the evolution of Islamist movements over the course of the twentieth century, from the Muslim Brothers? emergence, to the development of radical Islam, and the ?mainstreaming? of Islamist movements searching for avenues of legal participation. Another component will be issue-based and will examine questions such as: why did political movements based in Islam become so important in the twentieth century? How can we account for their polarization into what are usually described as ?moderate? and ?radical? trends? How is their existence and history related to the formation of modern states in the Middle East and to their authoritarianism? What are the reasons behind and the consequences of some of these movements? electoral successes, after the Arab Spring in particular? Egypt will be the central focus due to its crucial role in the genealogy of Islamism as a political movement. Although examples from North Africa, Iran, Saudi Arabia and other countries of the Middle East will also be covered, the course is not a survey of the history of Islamist movements throughout the entire region.