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Critical Genealogies of Middle East Studies – Fall 2017

Course number:  AMES 620S, Gateway course for the Graduate Middle East Studies Certificate

Course attributes: CCS, CZ, SS

Course description:

This graduate seminar provides a comparative analysis of foundational theoretical and intellectual texts of Middle East Studies. With an interdisciplinary focus on culture, history, politics, literature, religion, and policy, readings and presentations by experts in the field will reveal how knowledge of the Middle East is produced within the framework of specific disciplinary traditions. Secondary focus on orientalism, gender, cultural studies, literary theory, and postcolonialism.

Professors biographies:

Professor Erdağ Göknar teaches in Duke’s Asian & Middle Eastern Studies department and is the director of the Duke University Middle East Studies Center. Professor Göknar’s research focuses on the intersection of politics and culture in the Middle East; specifically, the late Ottoman Empire and modern Turkey. He is also interested in exploring questions of Turkish and Muslim representation in literature, historiography, and popular culture/media. This includes examining tensions between city and nation at the nexus of representational and political power. Professor Göknar’s work has focused the political critiques of state ideology embedded in literary and historical tropes in the work of authors like Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk and on the critical role played by writers in representations of political violence such as cultural revolution, military coups and colonial occupation (a recent project addresses the Occupation of Istanbul after WWI). More generally, he is interested in political imaginaries that emerge out of cultural productions. Areas of additional focus include world literature, the global city, and cultural translation.

Professor Fadi Bardawill teaches at the University of North Carolina’s Department of Asian Studies and Department of Global Studies. He is an anthropologist (Ph.D Columbia University, 2010) who researches the traditions of intellectual inquiry, practices of public criticism, and modalities of political engagement of contemporary Arab intellectuals, both at home and in the diaspora. In doing so, Professor Bardawil investigates theoretical discourses as anthropological objects by tracking their international circulations, translations, analytical uses, and political appropriations.

Currently, he is completing In Marxism’s Wake: The Disenchantment of Levantine Intellectuals, a book that examines the ebbing away of Marxist thought and practice through focusing on the intellectual and political trajectories of a generation – born around 1940 – of previously militant, public intellectuals. I retrace the extinction of revolutionary hopes with the rise of militant sectarian and Islamist political forces, explore the vexed relation of intellectuals to political militancy, and look into the emergence of a fork in critical agendas after the rise of postcolonial critique between diasporic Arab intellectuals, and their Marxist and liberal peers at home. I am also writing an essay on Talal Asad’s work focusing on questions of the anthropologist’s positionality, modes of intellectual inquiry, and spaces of intellectual engagement that will introduce an interview I conducted with him.