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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 deals with the historical, political, economic, and social processes in the Middle East and North Africa  region throughout the XX and XXI Centuries. It examines the modern politics of the MENA region, emphasizing the period spanning from the collapse of the Ottoman Empire to the post-Arab Spring era. Topics covered include the late Ottoman Empire, the state and nation-building processes, conflict of nationalisms (Arab, Turkish, and Zionist), the awakening of political Islam, the 2011 Arab Uprisings and the role of the extra-regional powers (U.S) in the wider Mediterranean region. During the classes, students will learn to analyze some social, and political problems  using a few selected countries for comparison and analysis  including the role of the army, bureaucracy, the religious classes, the legitimation of power, gender issues, and political parties. Attention will be paid to the links between the historical-political background of the MENA countries and current events



    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 MENA region, its states, and its peoples. Specifically, the course provides the basic tools for the knowledge of the politics of the Middle Eastern states, with particular reference to the study of regional social, political, and security issues.


    Contemporary History.  

    Knowledge of the fundamentals of International Relations is suggested.




    Frontal lectures, students' presentations, use of media, class discussion. Active contribution to class seminars is considered extremely important and it will be subjected to informal assessment.



    Module 1: Overview of the course (presentation of the syllabus; audio-visual tools; hashtags; journals; archives) and preliminary inputs. Introduction to the study of contemporary Middle East; Stereotypes of "Oriental despotism" and of "Orientalism"; and the roots of the Sunni-Shia rift (fitnah).


    Module 2: The Historical background: the Tanzimat and the end of religious coexistence, Mohammad Ali's Egypt, the birth of colonies and protectorates in North Africa, the Arab entry to international relations, face the challenges (nahda and tajdid), the cultural ferment in the Levant.


    Module 3: The Great War in the Middle East: the Ottoman Empire from the revolution to the First World War, An ottoman legacy of statehood, the mahdi experience, Wartime plans for the partition of the Middle East.


    Module 4: The modern Middle East state-system: the mandates and the colonial framework; modern state formation (Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Transjordan, Lebanon, Turkey).


    Module 5: The Arab struggle for independence: Egypt, Iraq and Transjordan, Balfour and the UK mandate on Palestine, the emergence of sectarian politics in Lebanon, the Jewish community in Palestine (leadership and institutions), the Arab community in Palestine (leadership and institutions).


    Module 6: The Second World War and the entry of superpowers: the Israel’s birth, Nasser’s rise and the spread of pan-Arabism, the military coups (Syria, Iraq, Turkey), the different paths and struggles for independence (Tunisia, Morocco, Libya), revolutions and statism, the National Liberation Front and the Algerian War.  


    Module 7: Cold War Battles (the Suez Crisis, Arab-Israeli Conflicts, the Lebanese Civil War), the strengthening of the authoritarian regimes (Syria, Iraq, Libya), the oil revolution and the rise of the rentier states, the Camp David Accords.


    Module 8: The rise of political Islam: the Islamic Revolution, the Turkish-Islamic synthesis, the Kurdish issue, the Iran-Iraq War and the Afghanistan, the MENA authoritarian regimes and neo-liberal globalization, the first Intifada and the Oslo process, the Algerian civil-war.


    Module 9: The MENA region in the post-Cold War era: the 9/11 and the Pax Americana project for the ME, Governments and Oppositions, the Civil Society, Religion/Identity/Gender and Politics, the rise of AKP (Turkey).

    Module 10: The Arab upheavals and the reshuffle of regional balances: Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, the Syrian proxy-war, the Libyan civil war, Gezi Protests, the sectarianization process and the birth of the Islamic State, the North Africa Countries realities and state of play (Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco), the East-Med issue.


    Attending students are requested to prepare the following text (mandatory):

    • Peter Mansfield, A History of the Middle East, London: Penguin Books, 2013.

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


    and to choose one of the following texts as additional Reading: 

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

    - Carlo Degli Abbati, Libia, passato e presente. Tribù e milizie nel destino libico, Genova: Termanini editore, 2021.

     - 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.

    - Giorgio Musso, La moschea e la caserma. Islamisti e militari al potere in Sudan (1989-2011), Bologna: Carocci, 2017.

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


    All other materials (readings, videos) will be provided on the class website. Students are requested to prepare the readings provided carefully, in order to be able to participate to class discussions. The use of the historical maps is highly recommended


    Exam Board

    GIANNI DEL PANTA (President)




    The lessons will start on March 9th 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                                                           10%    

    Midterm exam                                                                                    40%               

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

    Those students who will fail to attend classes have to take the oral exam on the mandatory text, the additional reading, and on the following text too:


    -  Michele Penner Angrist (Ed.), Politics and Society in the Contemporary Middle East, Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2019.

    Exam schedule

    Date Time Location Type Notes
    26/05/2023 09:00 GENOVA Orale
    16/06/2023 09:00 GENOVA Orale
    03/07/2023 09:00 GENOVA Orale
    08/09/2023 09:00 GENOVA Orale