Fall 2011 MESAAS Courses


Theories of Culture: Middle East and South Asia MDES W3000
Professor G. Anidjar  

Required of all majors. Introduces theories of culture particularly related to the Middle East and South Asia. Theoretical debates on the nature and function of culture as a symbolic reading of human collectivities. Examines critical cultural studies of the Middle East and South Asia. Enables students to articulate their emerging knowledge of Middle East and Asian cultures in a theoretically informed language.

Theory and Methods in Middle East and Asian Studies MDES G4000
Professor S. Kaviraj  

Prerequisites: the instructor's permission. Explores recent studies on the Middle East with explicitly stated theoretical orientations that may be grouped under three broad categories of nationalism, discipline, and power and resistance. Methodologies as diverse as comparative method, post-structuralism, narrative, and ethnography are not investigated in the abstract but in the context of rich empirical case studies.

Islam on the Street: The Religious Dynamic in Modern Arabic Literary Production CLME G4261
Professor M. Al-Musawi.  

This course questions the whole idea of Arab modernity which is usually associated with the nahda or Arab awakening at the turn of the nineteenth century. Through close analysis of texts, poetry, narrative, travelogue and memoirs, it argues that the bane of modernity is its subordination to a Western ideal that minimizes or even negates its engagement with Islamic and Arab tradition. New writings take to the street where they find substance and faith that has been ignored for long under cultural dependency. These works receive due attention in relation to theoretical studies that increase readers' critical insight. No prior knowledge of Arabic language is required.

Palestinian- Israeli Politics and Society MDES W3042
Professor Joseph Massad  

This course covers the history of the Jewish Enlightenment (Haskala) in 19th century Europe and the development of Zionism at the turn of the 19th century through the current.

Rethinking Middle East Politics MDES W3260
Professor Timothy Mitchell  

This course examines a set of questions that have shaped the study of the politics of the modern Middle East. The topics covered in the course include: the kinds of modern state that emerged in the Middle East and the ways its forms of power and authority were shaped; the birth of economic development as a way of describing the function and measuring the success of the state, and the changing metrics of this success; the influence of oil on the politics of the region; the nature and role of Islamic political movements; the transformation of the countryside and the city and the role of rural populations and of urban protest in modern politics; and the politics of armed force and political violence in the region, and the ways in which this has been understood.

Central Questions in Islamic Law MDES W3923
Professor Wael Hallaq  

Through detailed discussions of certain landmarks in Islamic legal history (e.g., origins; early formation; sources of law; intellectual make-up; the workings of court; legal change; women in the law; legal effects of colonialism; modernity and legal reform, etc.), the course aims at providing an introductory but integrated view of Islamic law, a definition, so to speak, of what it was/is.

Introduction to Modern African History MDES W3942
Professor Mamadou Diouf  

This seminar is an interdisciplinary exploration of the history of the African continent, examining very closely the colonial and postcolonial periods. Its focus is the intersection of politics, economics, culture and society. Using colonialism, empire, and globalization as key analytical frames, it pays special attention to social, political and cultural changes that shaped the various African individual and collective experiences.

Global Political Thought MDES G4062
Professors Sudipta Kaviraj, Akeel Bilgrami and Souleymane B Diagne  

This course is intended to explore important themes in modern political thought from texts taken from traditions outside the modern West. It will not be devoted to textual exegesis, but use as sites of exploration central questions of modern politics. The attempt will be not merely to grasp what these thinkers thought, but to think more widely with and through their texts. The course will focus on the works of M K Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Mohammad Iqbal, and Leopold Senghor. It will involve reading assigned texts and critical and comparative analysis of their theoretical ideas.

Muslim Spain: Literature and Society MDES W4223
Professor Alan Verskin  

For almost eight centuries, Muslim Spain was distinguished by great cultural, religious and ethnic diversity. Sometimes peaceful, sometimes volatile, it was in this region that some of Islam's greatest intellectual and cultural accomplishments were achieved. This course examines life in Muslim Spain through an examination of the chronicles, poetry, literature, philosophy and legal works that were produced there.

Revolution in Arabic: Literature at War CLME G4228
Professor Muhsin Al-Musawi  

This course responds to the sweeping winds of change in the Arab region, covering a great amount of archival and media material including documentaries, films, narratives, poetry and songs. It substantiates and synthesizes its analysis with a theoretical frame that makes use of Arab intellectual thought in translation, along with legacies of popular revolutions and liberation movements in the Arab region and in the three continents, along with readings of significance in the literature of World War I and II. In their presentations and research students are encouraged to participate in archival material gathering, analysis of required texts and active participation in roundtable discussions

The Family in Pre-Modern Islam MDES G4229
Professor Alan Verskin  

This course explores the religious ideals and practical realities of family life in the medieval Islamic world. Part of the course will be devoted to helping students to read primary sources in the original Arabic.

Islam on the Street: The Religious Dynamic in Modern Arabic Literary Production CLME G4261
Professor Muhsin Al-Musawi  

This course questions the whole idea of Arab modernity which is usually associated with the nahda or Arab awakening at the turn of the nineteenth century. Through close analysis of texts, poetry, narrative, travelogue and memoirs, it argues that the bane of modernity is its subordination to a Western ideal that minimizes or even negates its engagement with Islamic and Arab tradition. No prior knowledge of Arabic language is required.

Memories of the Armenian Genocide MDES G4326
Professor Armen Marsoobian  

Genocide is a highly complex human phenomenon that engenders complex responses on the part of individuals . both by those who were directly affected by the violence and those in the generations that followed. Literature and the arts . both visual and performing . have tried to make sense of this most evil of crimes. This course will consider the use of art to explore the memories of the Armenian Genocide.

19TH Century Indian Muslims MDES G4643
Professor S. Azbar Zaidi  

This is an advanced undergraduate/graduate history seminar course over thirteen weeks, designed to introduce upper level students to the study of Muslims in colonial India in the nineteenth century. Although dealing with this period, the main focus of this course will be on social, religious and political developments, inspired by, and affecting, India's Muslims in the second half of the century.

Mughal India MDES G4652
Professor Allison Busch  

The Mughal period was one of the most dynamic eras in world history, when India was the meeting place of many cultures. This course is a broad cultural history of Mughal India as seen from a range of perspectives and sources.

Theories of Literature Society CLME G6023
Professor Sudipta Kaviraj and Dan Miron  

A reading course on Literary Theory and Social Theory for students and faculty of MESAAS and the broader Columbia community from the Humanities and Social Sciences, which will take up in greater detail some of the issues of Literary and Social Theories and employ them to think on the research topics of the participants in the seminar. The course is conceived as part of an ongoing project that will acquaint students, who are seriously interested in literary theory, with these thinkers and theoretical traditions in greater depth and detail.

Readings in Classical Arabic MDES G6210
Professor George Saliba  

Readings and analysis of texts, with discussion of the nature and development of the genres within the context of Islamic thought. One genre covered each term.

The Modern State and the Colonial Subject ANME G6406
Professor Mahmood Mamdani  

This seminar on the development of legal thought on the colonial subject will read and discuss texts focusing on three different historical periods: the 16th and 17th Century conquest of native peoples in the New World; the subjugation of British India (the Dutch East Indies and the Malay states) before and after the 1857 Uprising; and the conquest of southern and tropical Africa in the 19th and 20th Centuries.

Dynamics of Israeli Culture CLME G6530
Professor Dan Miron  

The course will survey the development of Israeli Literature within three time sections and along the evolving process of its three main genres. The time sections are those a) the birth of Israeli literature in the aftermath of the 1948 War (the 1950s); b)the maturation of Israeli literature during the 1960s and 1970s; c) Israeli Literature in the era of the peace process and the Intifadas (1980s and 1990s). The genres are those of lyrical poetry, prose fiction (mainly novels), and drama. All texts will be available in English translations.

Readings in Sanskrit Texts MDES G6821
Professor Sheldon Pollock  

Selected Readings in Sanskrit Literary Theory from the late medieval period.

Universalizing Sexuality MDES G8220
Professor Joseph Massad  

This doctoral seminar will address how the universalization of sexuality as an essential human (and sometime animal) attribute that transcends cultures began to be studied in U.S. academia in earnest in the 1970s, proceeding apace with the mobilization for sexual rights in U.S. domestic social activism, and by the 1980s with the mobilization of universal human rights as a central agenda for both U.S. foreign policy and international activism.