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CODE 105105
  • 6 cfu during the 2nd year of 11162 RELAZIONI INTERNAZIONALI (LM-52) - GENOVA
    LANGUAGE English
  • SEMESTER 2° Semester


    The course aims at providing a general introduction to Middle Eastern and North African politics. It does so by stimulating students to thinking comparatively about models of economic development, political systems, state-society dynamics, military-state relations, Political Islam, gender politics, and other core elements of national governance in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). The purpose of the course is to highlight similarities and differences among national political models and to take into consideration the effects of international actors such as the United States, European countries, Russia, and China on regional and domestic systems. The course also zooms in on the outbreak of mass protest movements in many countries of the region since 2010, taking stock of whether and to what extent the MENA has changed.



    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.


    By the conclusion of the course, students will be able to analyse the interplay between the international context and domestic politics in the MENA; identify differences and similarities in the institutional structures, actors, and policy making processes that typify Middle Eastern and North African states; problematise the relationships between historical legacies and current political developments in the MENA; improve their abilities to conduct research on various economic and social topics from a comparative perspective






    Problem-based learning centred on interactive lessons and debates within friendly environment that stimulates and encourages participation. Stimulating critical thinking and encouraging students to use different literatures in order to enrich their understanding of Middle Eastern and North African politics.



    Module 1

    After a brief overview of the course and its main aims, the module explores the recent history of the Middle East and North Africa, starting from the colonial period and state formation. Subsequently, it deals with the post-independence phase, analysing socio, economic, and political aspects.


    Module 2

    The module investigates political systems in the MENA from a comparative perspective. It discusses the weakness and very limited diffusion of liberal democratic systems in the region and explores the distinction between monarchical and republic regimes. It then turns to parliaments, elections, and multi-party systems.


    Module 3

    In this part of the course, we focus on political violence, dealing with both state and non-state actors. In particular, the module explores the role of the armed forces, which have often played a very prominent role in many countries of the region, and the strategy that rulers have adopted to coup-proof their regimes.


    Module 4

    The module deals with Political Islam, by far the most important political-ideological tendency in the MENA over the last half a century. It traces back the origins of Political Islam and its much more recent developments, discussing achievements and defeats of Islamist parties.


    Module 5

    In contrast to the strongly Western-based view that sees women as a passive and scarcely influential actor in the region, the module discusses how women have contributed to political and social life in the MENA. It also explores how grass-roots feminism has reacted against both the phenomenon of state feminism and reactionary movements.


    Module 6

    The module explores in detail the last decade, focusing on the outbreak of revolutionary movements from below and the following counter-revolutions that in many cases have been successful in defeating the social and political aspirations that had emerged. The MENA represented thereby an interesting case of revolutionary movements that failed to revolutionize society.


    Key textbook of the course

    Durac, V. and F. Cavatorta (2022) Politics and Governance in the Middle East. 2nd edition. London: Bloomsbury Academic.

    Lynch, M., J. Schwedler, and S. Yom (2022) The Political Science of the Middle East: Theory and Research Since the Arab Uprisings. Oxford: Oxford University Press. (Chapters 1; 2; 3; 5; 6; 7)


    Students will then choose one of the following books:


    Allam, N. (2017) Women and the Egyptian Revolution: Engagement and Activism during the 2011 Arab Uprisings. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


    Allinson, J. (2022) The Age of Counter-Revolution: States and Revolutions in the Middle East. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


    Bou Nassif, H. (2020) Endgames: Military Response to Protest in Arab Autocracies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


    Hanieh, A. (2018) Money, Markets, and Monarchies: The Gulf Cooperation Council and the Political Economy of Contemporary Middle East. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


    Schwedler, J. (2022) Protesting Jordan: Geography of Power and Dissent. Stanford: Stanford University Press.


    Wolf, A. (2017) Political Islam in Tunisia: The History of Ennahda. London: Hurst & Co.



    Exam Board

    GIANNI DEL PANTA (President)




    The lessons will start on March 8th and the Teams login password is mv6dagp

    Class schedule

    All class schedules are posted on the EasyAcademy portal.



    Attending students:

    Student grades will be calculated using the following criteria:


    Engagement and Participation                                                           20%     

    Final exam                                                                                         80%               

    Total                                                                                                  100%


    Final examination: Oral exam on the topics covered during classes, on the two required texts plus one reading of your choice.

    Students who fail to attend classes have to take the oral exam on the mandatory text and two (not just one) of the additional readings

    Exam schedule

    Date Time Location Type Notes
    23/05/2023 14:00 GENOVA Orale
    14/06/2023 14:00 GENOVA Orale
    12/07/2023 14:00 GENOVA Orale
    13/09/2023 14:00 GENOVA Orale