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Contemporary Ethnographies of the Middle East

Instructor(s): Lisa Wedeen
Fall 2021

This class focuses on ethnographies published in the last two to three years, so they represent some of the prevailing questions researchers of the Middle East are working on now. The texts selected cover a variety of topics (revolution, authoritarian retrenchment, the politics of artistic production, gender and sexuality, migration, violence, state infrastructure, and environmentalism) and the books include efforts to learn something about various countries in the region (e.g., Saudi Arabia, Bosnia, Syria, Egypt, Palestine, Turkey, and Morocco). Among the questions we shall ask are the following: What makes ethnography a distinctive sensibility, a particular form of writing or a specific genre of address? What kinds of themes predominate and why? What types of questions can ethnographies grapple with especially well? What skills does one need to produce a compelling ethnography? How does theory tend to get deployed in these works? How well do ethnographies speak to general concerns that extend beyond a particular case or, for that matter, any one discipline’s preoccupations? No previous background in anthropology or Middle East studies is necessary. Attendance is mandatory. Students will be required to produce one in-class presentation and to write either a take-home final or a research paper.

PLSC 36301 | PLSC 26301 | ANTH 24115 | ANTH 31906 | CCCT 36301 | CCCT 26301