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CODE 95127
  • 6 cfu during the 2nd year of 10177 SCIENZE INTERNAZIONALI E DELLA COOPERAZIONE (LM-52) - GENOVA
    LANGUAGE English
  • SEMESTER 1° Semester
    MODULES This unit is a module of:


    This course deals with the historical, political and social processes in the Middle East. It starts with the new order created in the Middle East following the fall of the Ottoman Empire, ending with the post-Arab Spring distinguished by a new regional configuration and several proxy conflicts. Attention will be paid to the links between the history of the modern Middle East and current events such as the Syrian civil war, the sectarianization process and the enlargement of regional borders.



    Students who have successfully completed the course will: -- have thorough knowledge of this historical period, especially regarding the growth of Islam and the social and cultural worlds of the Ottoman eras. -- be able to apply their knowledge and analytical skills to understand medieval and modern political and social processes in the Middle East -- be able to express their own critical views on historical developments in Middle East -- have improved their writing skills -- have improved their critical reading skills.


    The objective of this course is to give students a more nuanced and complete understanding of the Middle East, its states, and its peoples. Specifically, the course provides the basic tools for the knowledge of the history of the Middle Eastern states, with particular reference to the study of the regional security issues. At the end of the course, students will have acquired the analytical tools and knowledge necessary to understand the main features of the political, social, and cultural history of the modern Middle East. In addition, students will have the opportunity to develop their own professional thinking in this field. Students will acquire a top-down and a bottom-up perspective on the major historical processes and developments in the modern Middle East; to formulate her/his arguments in a clear way (by oral presentation and class discussion); to evaluate and compare between events and processes across the time; and begin to offer a critical view of the academic literature.


    Contemporary History - International Relations.


    Frontal lectures, students' presentations, use of media, class discussion.



    Week 1: Overview of the course (presentation of the syllabus; audio-visual tools; hashtags; journals; archives) and preliminary inputs. Introduction to the study of modern and contemporary Middle Eastern history, an introduction to the roots of the Sunni-Shia rift (fitnah).


    Week 2: Reform and Rebellion in the ME: the Tanzimat and the end of religious coexistence, Mohammad Ali's Egypt, the Qajar Iran.


    Week 3: The Great War in the Middle East: the Ottoman Empire and the Qajar Iran from the revolution to the First World War.


    Week 4: The modern Middle East state-system: the mandates and the State formation (Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Transjordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iran).


    Week 5: The Second World War and the entry of superpowers: the Israel’s birth, Nasser’s pan-Arabism and the military coups (Iran, Turkey and the Arab States).


    Week 6: Cold War Battles: The Suez Crisis, Arab-Israeli Conflicts, the Lebanese Civil War.


    Week 7: The rise of political Islam: the Islamic Revolution, the Turkish-Islamic synthesis, the Kurdish issue, the Iran-Iraq War and the Afghanistan Jihad.


    Week 8: The Middle East security in the post-Cold War era: the 9/11 and the Pax Americana project for the ME: the Iraq War, the new Turkey’s foreign policy and the rise of small assertive powers (UAE, Qatar).

    Week 10: The Arab upheavals and the reshuffle of regional balances: Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, the Syrian proxy-war, Gezi Protests, the sectarianization process and the birth of the Islamic State.


    • Peter Mansfield, A History of the Middle East (4th Edition), London: Penguin Books, 2013.

    - Federico Donelli, Sovranismo islamico. Erdogan e il ritorno della grande Turchia, Roma: Luiss University Press, 2019.


    To choose one of the following texts as Reading: 

    - Mark Lynch, The New Arab Wars: Uprisings and Anarchy in the Middle East, Washington, Public Affairs, 2017.

    - Carlo Degli Abbati, Il radicalismo nel nome dell’Islam: una responsabilità condivisa?, Roma: Aracne Editrice, 2016.

    - Federico Donelli, Le due sponde del Mar Rosso. La politica estera degli stati mediorientali nel Corno d’Africa, Milano: Mondadori Università, 2019.

    - Nader Hashemi, Danny Postel (eds.), Sectarianization: Mapping the New Politics of the Middle East, Oxford: OUP, 2017.

    - Raymond Hinnebusch, Adham Saouli (eds.), The War for Syria: Regional and International Dimensions of the Syrian Uprising, London: Routledge, 2019.


    Those students who will fail to attend classes according to Department's rules have to add in their readings the following text too:


    -  Louise Fawcett (ed), International Relations of the Middle East, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017.

    All other reading materials will be provided on the class website. Students are requested to prepare the required readings carefully, in order to be able to participate to class discussions.

    The use of the historical maps is highly recommended.


    Exam Board

    FEDERICO DONELLI (President)

    GIORGIO MUSSO (President)



    Thursday 8 October 2020

    Class schedule

    All class schedules are posted on the EasyAcademy portal.




    Student grades will be calculated using the following criteria:


    Attendance and Class Performance                                                               10%    

    Mid-term exam (1)                                                                                          40%                

    Final oral examination                                                                                    50%                

    Total                                                                                                              100%


    Midterm exam: Students will answer to a multiple-choice test and one open question about the topics covered during classes.


    Final examination: Oral exam

    Attendance and Class performance: this course is based on seminar format and the goal is to get students to actively debate, engage, and critically reflect on class material. Students will present a current event orally to the class each week. The presentation should be no more than five minutes in length. The current event must relate to conflict or politics in the Middle East. The source should be from a respected news source, be less than one week old and pertain in some way to one or more international organizations. Each student should try to relate the article to some element of what we have been discussing in class. Although class roll will be taken and unexcused absences will be sanctioned, the bulk of the grade is about the quality and frequency of your participation. Come ready to participate, challenge, and debate issues.


    Exam schedule

    Date Time Location Type Notes
    14/01/2021 09:00 GENOVA Orale
    04/02/2021 09:00 GENOVA Orale
    27/05/2021 09:00 GENOVA Orale
    18/06/2021 09:00 GENOVA Orale
    12/07/2021 09:00 GENOVA Orale
    10/09/2021 09:00 GENOVA Orale