GV4F2      Half Unit
Popular Politics in the Middle East

This information is for the 2013/14 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr John Chalcraft CON5.16


This course is available on the MSc in Comparative Politics, MSc in Conflict Studies, MSc in Global Politics, MSc in Global Politics (Global Civil Society) and MSc in Political Sociology. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

This course is capped at 3 groups.   The deadline for receipt of applications is Friday, 11 October 2013.

Course content

The course aims to explore the role of popular politics in the making of the modern Middle East. The primary focus is on the Arab world but reference is also made to Iran, Israel and Turkey. We will study the origins, course and consequences of protest movements and contentious politics in the region from late nineteenth century to the Arab Spring of 2011. The material is organized by both chronology and theme, and relates to diverse forms of collective action, including religious and secular, armed and peaceful, revolutionary and reformist, ideological and survivalist, urban and rural, 'vertical' and 'horizontal'. The course addresses in particular the question of trans-nationalism, border-crossing, and the ways in which global and local forms have been intertwined in the making of political contention. We will aim to avoid either materialist or idealist reductionism, and pay attention to the problems involved in defining and identifying resistance. The course eschews (neo)Orientalist and modernist clichés alike, and draws in inter-disciplinary fashion on comparative politics, social history, anthropology, postcolonialism, and social movements theory.


15 hours of lectures and 9 hours of seminars in the LT. 2 hours of seminars in the ST.

Formative coursework

In order to develop essay skills and obtain feedback outside of formal assessment, students will complete a 2,000 word formative essay by week 6, on which they will receive feedback as to overall standard, argument, evidence, structure and style by the end of term. Students will choose one essay from a list of titles. To prepare for the 5,000 word essay, students will submit for approval a proposed title and a two-page handout summarizing the topic on which written feedback will be given. An eleventh seminar will also be held in the Summer Term as a workshop to assist students prior to the final submission of their 5,000 word essay.

Indicative reading

Abrahamian, Ervand. Iran between Two Revolutions (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1982); ayat, Asef. Street Politics: Poor People's Movements in Iran (New York: Columbia University Press, 1997); Beinin, Joel. Workers and Peasants in Modern Middle East (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001); Burke, Edmund III. Struggle and Survival in the Modern Middle East (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993); Filiu, Jean-Pierre. The Arab Revolution: Ten Lessons from the Democratic Uprising. (London: Hurst, 2011): Gelvin, James. Divided Loyalties: Nationalism and Mass Politics in Syria at the close of Empire (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998); Hasso, Frances. Resistance, Repression, and Gender Politics in Occupied Palestine and Jordan (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2005); Lockman, Zachary. Contending Visions of the Middle East (Cambridge University Press, 2004); Swedenburg, Ted. Memories of Revolt: The 1936-1939 Rebellion and the Palestinian National Past (Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 2003).


Essay (100%, 5000 words) in the ST.

Key facts

Department: Government

Total students 2012/13: 43

Average class size 2012/13: 15

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Communication