4 credit hours
The goal of this course is to approach social groups of the past and contemporary states of the Fertile Crescent region--namely, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq—while analyzing the ways various groups (also called social forces) organize themselves in tandem with, or in opposition to, each other and state governments. The course will include discussions of the evolution of legal and educational systems, communal self-government, and non-state actors in violent conflicts asking: How do/did religious/ethnic identities, languages, nationalism(s), secular ideologies, and grassroots media contribute to constructing and empowering social forces? The three main social forces that will be discussed include: religious and ethnic groups; so-called "marginal voices" including women, youth, and workers; and urban intellectuals. Lebanon, Syria and Iraq dealt with their unique social make-ups differently, even if they all faced the same dramatic changes that came with the major periods of the 20th century marked by two World Wars and a long Cold War. These historical changes will help us grasp the socio-cultural realities that existed as the Arab Spring turned to a hostile winter in recent years.