IR 560: Nationalism and Comparative Ethnic Conflict

The twentieth century saw a proliferation of nationalist movements that produced violent mobilization and conflict. The internationalization of ethnic conflict since the collapse of the Soviet Union continues to shape domestic, regional, and international conflict dynamics over  identity, religion, resources, and territory. Often manifested through inter and intra-state (civil) wars, ethnic conflict has, and will continue to pose a challenge to international peace and security. To better ascertain conflict origins and dynamics, students will be introduced to Western and non-Western theories of nations, nationalism, identity and ethnicity to better explain the processes that lead to group mobilization. In doing so, this course surveys prominent ethno-nationalist movements throughout the 20th and 21st centuries to better understand the causes and consequences of identity-based conflicts around world. In the first part of the course, students will be introduced to various theories of nationalism, ethnicity, and conflict to gain a clearer conceptual grounding of the fast literature on nationalism and political violence, more broadly. The second section of the course introduces students to the relationship between ethnic conflict and civil wars and the socio-economic and political variables that fuel their spread. The last section focuses on five contemporary, cross-national case studies of ethnic conflict and political violence: Eastern Europe and the breakdown of Yugoslavia; the Rwandan genocide; Sri Lanka’s civil war and genocide; the ethnic cleansing and genocide of the Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar; and the Islamic Sate’s genocide against Yazidis and Assyrian Christians in Iraq and Syria. By the end of the course, students gain a deeper conceptual and empirical understanding of the relationship between nationalism, ethnicity, ethnic conflict, political violence, and civil wars.

IR 382: Understanding the Modern Middle East

This course offers an introduction to the Middle East and North Africa (MENA region) – encompassing, inclusively, the Arab World, Iran, Israel, and Turkey. It surveys the region’s historical political development throughout the 20th and 21st centuries and explores themes relating to colonial and imperial encroachment, state formation, statebuilding, institutional development, state-society relations in order to better understand the region’s place in international politics. Students will gain a deeper understanding of how and why the international relations of the region and its comparative political development has, to a large degree, been influenced and shaped by its position within the international system and European and American geopolitical interests. First, students will be introduced to the interdisciplinary theoretical frameworks that are employed to understand the origins and formation of modern Middle East by exploring themes relating to orientalism, colonialism, nationalism, and various forms of nationalist and ideological movements that have shaped state formation and statebuilding. Second, students will learn to evaluate and analyze historical and archival materials relating to the region’s colonial administration in order to gain a deeper understanding of the region’s state formation. Lastly, students will examine each state’s development in order to critically evaluate pertinent topics relating to authoritarianism, oil politics, gender and women’s mobilization, Islamic political parties, international influence, democratic and revolutionary social movements, and minority and identity politics.

IR 312: Comparative Development in the Middle East

This course focuses on the domestic, regional, and international factors that produce and shape development outcomes in the Middle East and North Africa (here, MENA region). The MENA constitutes a regional state system, not unlike other regions, shaped by complex state-society relations with states divided by the degree of their resource wealth, societal heterogeneity, national and sub-national variation, regime typologies, and starkly divergent social and economic conditions. Although many states are outcomes of European colonial creations, some, like Turkey, Iran, Morocco, and the Arab Gulf states, are historical anomalies. Understanding the genesis of states in the MENA, the factors that shaped their creation, and the domestic, regional, and international conditions that dictate their formation illuminates their current socio-economic and political development and their position in the international system. At the end of the course, students will be able to answer the following questions: What explains cross-national variation in development outcomes? How has state formation affected subsequent statebuilding? What is the relationship between oil and development? Why is the MENA region susceptible to external influence and intervention? And, lastly, what is the role of Islam in politics and society? To answer these questions, this course will survey pertinent topics relating to the socio-economic and political development of the Middle East and North African throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. Students will explore and critically analyze themes relating to colonialism and state formation and statebuilding, regime types, oil and rentierism, civil society, authoritarianism and democratization, military spending, gender relations, Islamist movements, elections, revolutions and social movements, territorial disputes, foreign intervention, and sectarianism and identity politics. We will compare and contrast development between oil and non-oil producing states, regime types, and institutional capacity in order to elucidate factors that produce divergent development outcomes. By the end of this course, students will be able to synthesize and analyze qualitative, quantitative, and historical data from multiple sources to contextualize and analyze cross-national variation.

IR 533: Contentious Politics and the Arab Spring

The events that culminated in the 2011 Arab uprisings, commonly known as the ‘Arab Spring’, altered analyses of Arab-region politics. While countries that constitute the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) continue to be - home to some of the world’s longest standing authoritarian regimes, the uprisings and revolutions challenged previous notions of authoritarian durability as republics, monarchies, secular, and theocratic countries across the region experienced varying degrees of instability sparked by protest movements calling for socio-economic and political change. Beginning in Tunisia late 2010 and quickly spreading to Egypt, and Morocco, Bahrain, Libya, Syria, and Yemen, the uprisings differed in degree and scope resulting in divergent outcomes. While some regimes were overthrown following decades of rule; others acquiesced to citizen demands by engaging in various concession-making processes; yet others heavily suppressed the protest movements in order to maintain their hold on power. Egypt experienced re-emergent authoritarianism following regime change. This course analyzes divergent outcomes of the Arab uprisings by framing the uprisings along a historic continuum of domestic, regional, and international political developments. As an introductory course to the topic, it will critically and systematically analyze the events that continue to affect governance across the region. In doing so, it seeks to contextualize the historical and contemporary processes that affected mass mobilization by examining how and why linkages between regional and international states and actors affected historical and contemporary statebuilding and transitional outcomes. Beginning with North Africa, students will explore socio-economic and geopolitical relations between Morocco, Libya, and Tunisia and European states of the Mediterranean. Emphasis will be on analyzing the historical roots of contemporary relations based on shared historical interactions. Students will also be exposed to the role of regional and external actors in grievance consolidation and protest mobilization in Egypt, Bahrain, Syria, Yemen, and Libya by analyzing the consequences of international and regional intervention prior to and post-2011.