IR/PO 319 - Europe and the Middle East
This interdisciplinary course provides an in-depth introduction to the international politics of the Middle East. The engagement with crucial empirical understandings of the region including transnational ideologies (e.g. pan-Arabism, pan-Islamism), international conflicts (e.g. the conflict in Israel/Palestine,), and the relation between globalisation and regional politics as well as contentious politics constitutes the introduction of the course. In the wake of the so called “Arab Spring”, the “refugee crisis” in 2015 and the rise of ISIS, the Europe’s neighbouring region became a central topic in various forms. These substantial changes and conflicts do not only re-shape the political map of the Middle East, but also influence the political situation, public discourse, and policy-making process in Europe and on a global scale. The spillover of Middle-East conflicts beyond the region’s borders challenges traditional thinking about core matters of European security and social cohesion. However, in many of these discourses the long history, including colonial history, of relations between the Middle East and Europe is neglected. The course will thus shed light on the different historical connections between Europe and the Middle East. Drawing on this historical background, the course will examine and contextualize what is labelled the “Arab Spring” the “refugee crisis” and recent developments with regard to Islamic radicalism and Jihadi-Salafism. The course will also critically engage with concepts such as identity politics, sectarianism, and Islamic fundamentalism, which often appear as explanations for conflicts. The last part of the course will be dedicated to analyzing the impact of the conflict situation in the Middle East and transnational dynamics on European politics and society. In this context, we will focus on two strategic interfaces: (1) forced migration from conflict areas and (2) terrorism and radicalization, as two threads connecting the events in the Middle East with the social and political reality in Europe. We will also examine the systemic impact of these topics on the current political discourse and through one excursion where we will meet groups/representatives from refugee communities/ diaspora activists.