Middle East Essay Ideas

Examples of “Topics in Middle East Politics and Society I”

Below are examples of courses that have recently been taught in the Department of Culture Studies and Oriental Languages and which may be given – in an updated and revised form – in MES4500. These courses are related to ongoing research activities in the Department. Depending on the availability of faculty staff and their current research interests, other themes may also be offered.

Islamist thought and practice in the Arab world

Course content

Islamism is commonly defined as activism with the aim of establishing an Islamic state of some kind. However, Islamism is also a framework for understanding the world, or several related, but different such frameworks. This course focuses on the ideational aspect of Islamism: What are the foundational ideas that inform Islamist activism? How to make sense of the different forms of political and social activism informed by Islamist ideology? Is it at all possible to talk about Islamism as an ideology, or as a political theory? Through this course you will gain a bird’s-eye view of Islamism as an ideology, as you study the ideas of the major Islamist intellectuals across time and space and engage with critical analyses of their message. Islamist movements are often analysed in sociological terms, where the questions of mobilization, organizational strategies and communication have been emphasized. These are important concerns, but in this course we take the central issue of ideology seriously, developing an in-depth understanding of the Islamist world-view and comparing it to others.

Learning outcome

  • To make sense of similarities and differences and how it is possible to talk about Islamism as one phenomenon despite the variety of movements and directions subsumed under this label.
  • Through engaging with original texts written by Islamists you will gain in-depth knowledge about specific movements and figures such as Hasan al-Banna, Sayyid Qutb and Ayatollah Khomeini and the organizations they led and inspired.
  • The course includes comparative approaches that view the thought system of Islamism as an inherent part of modernity, rather than as an Islamic “exception”.
  • How and why Islamist ideas have a wide societal impact in the Middle East and elsewhMaking sense of Islamism as an ideologyere, far beyond those activists who may properly be called “Islamists”. 

Political Change in the Middle East

Course content

This course will present various theories for the domination of authoritarian forms of government. Until the spring of 2011 the literature predicted continued stable authoritarian rule.  The course will investigate possible reasons for why developments took a different path and explore the prospects for future democratisation.

Learning outcome

Participants will gain deep insights into the discussions on the underlying causes of the domination of authoritarian regimes in the region, and perspectives on the on-going situations of change.

Political Islam

Course content

Since the 1970s the Muslim world has witnessed a great surge of religious, social and political movements seeking to reform society by bringing it back to  what is perceived as true Islam. Focused on the historically core Muslim areas of the Middle East and North Africa, this course provides insights into the emergence of what we know as Islamist movements. Topics covered include the historical heritage of political thinking in Islam, the reformist movement starting in the late 19th century, the emergence of modern Islamism, and the renewed surge since the 1970s. Focusing in-depth on Iran, Egypt and Turkey the social basis for the appeal of Islamism is investigated, as well as the relationship between militant and moderate tendencies and the current socio-political role and ideological development of Islamism.

Learning outcome

Participants will gain in-depth knowledge of the various movements and ideological trends within Islamism. A key learning outcome is to understand how Islamism is formed by, and itself contributes to forming, political and social relations in the Middle East and North Africa. The course will also give participants a basis for critically assessing the relationship of Islamism to central political principles such as democracy, equality and pluralism.

The Muslim Brotherhood Movement in Egypt

Course content

Political Islam or Islamism, understood as political and social movements working to establish a society and polity based on what they perceive as true Islam and Islamic values, have played a significant role in contemporary Middle Eastern history and politics. Since the 1970s, Islamist groups have been among the most powerful and controversial opposition movements in the region. They have also been important regime supporters, in a few cases even holding the reins of power.

This course provides a broad historical background to the Muslim Brotherhood movement (al-Ikhwan al-Muslimun), arguably the largest and historically most significant of Islamist movements in the Middle East. The course starts with the Brotherhood’s inception in Ismailia Egypt in 1928 and traces its history, mostly within the boundaries of Egypt, until the present. Drawing upon historical and empirical in-depth studies, the course offers insight into the Brotherhood’s rise, expansion, and survival. The exploration of the transformation of the Muslim Brotherhood movement from a political-religious reform movement with different and sometimes radical expressions, towards a broad based moderate movement seeking political legitimacy and state power is a key theme of the course. Historical accounts are supplemented with comparative studies of regional branches of the movement as well as theoretical perspectives of how Islamism may be interpreted and understood.

Learning outcome

Participants will gain in-depth knowledge of Islamism as a socio-political movement, relying primarily on in-depth historical studies of the Muslim Brotherhood movement in Egypt, supplemented with a few comparative studies. A key learning outcome is to understand how historical case studies may increase our understanding of political phenomena, in this case, modern Islamism in Egypt. Furthermore, the course provides theoretical and comparative perspectives for analysis and interpretation of modern Islamist movements in the Middle East and North Africa. Finally, the course provides a basis for critical reading of the role and function of Islamism as an ideological tendency, socio-political movement, and enemy image.

Al-Qaida and Militant Islamism in the Arab world

Course content

The rise of al-Qaida and the proliferation of militant Islamist movements have exerted significant influences on society and politics in the Middle East during the past two decades. This course offers a broad introduction to the history and role of militant Islamism in the Arab world from the 1970s until the present. Militant Islamists or jihadists are understood as participants in violent transnational movements fighting for Islamic revolution against, or liberation from, what they perceive as oppressive infidel regimes and foreign occupation. The course explores how, acting under the label “jihadism”, one finds a variety of groups and tendencies with different backgrounds and historical origins. Despite their transnational organization and pan-Islamic ummah-oriented rhetoric, jihadi movements are heavily influenced by their national and local context.

Learning outcome

Participants will gain a basis for understanding why and how the jihadi movement in the Arab world emerged and became an influential factor in Middle Eastern politics. The reading list also includes micro-level studies in which the histories and experiences of individuals and groups are discussed in their local and national contexts. The course offers insights into the jihadi movement’s political-ideological self-perception, theological interpretations, as well as ideological fault-lines and internal debates. Organizations and groups from a number of countries will be studied, including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Algeria, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, and Palestine. Throughout the course, the jihadi movement’s role and self-perception in relation to ongoing armed conflicts in the region is considered. Less attention will be given to jihadi groups and tendencies outside the Arab world.



Publisert15. jan. 2015 09:52 - Sist endret16. nov. 2017 13:17

A List Of Up-To-Date Dissertation Topics On The Middle East

Each time students are asked to write any type of academic paper, especially a dissertation, making a choice of topic to write on seems to be one of the hardest tasks of composing such paper. This is especially because the topic or title of your paper needs to be very unique. This is the first thing that would draw the attention of your target readers towards your paper. Secondly, your choice of topic should be based on what interests you and if you have several of them, it would be difficult to decide on a particular one.

You have been asked to write a dissertation on the Middle East but time is going by rapidly and you are yet to come up with a unique topic for your paper. If this seems like your predicament, here are some up-to-date topics you should consider. They are as follows:

  • A look at the reason behind the breach of peace in the Middle East
  • The rule of democracy – Understanding why the Middle East is resistant to it
  • A critical analysis of the security situation in the Middle East
  • Understanding why authoritarian rule has continued to blossom in the Middle East
  • The role of social media in creating awareness of the authoritarian regimes in the Middle East Arab nationalism – A look at its rise
  • Understanding the chances of young oppositionists shaping the future of politics in the Middle East
  • The Middle East politics – Understanding what impact culture has on it
  • The onslaught of ISIS – What are the best measures to keep them in check?
  • New Middle East regimes and Islamist movements – How they can successfully cope
  • A look at the role of media on the Middle East politics
  • A comparative analysis of the cultural beliefs of the Middle East versus the US
  • The Middle East conflicts – Analyzing some of the best conflict resolutions
  • The clash of civilization – The Middle East as a case study
  • The Middle East crisis – Should stricter measures be taken?

The moment you decide on a particular topic for your dissertation on the Middle East, it means you have successfully scaled one of the most difficult aspects of writing your academic paper. In order for your topic to be approved, it is important that you gather enough solid evidence that would rightly back up your ideas and points as far as your paper is concerned.

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