Spring 2013 Special Topics
Topic: Justifying Imperium: The Political Theory of Modern Empire
Throughout much of the modern age, European empires laid claim to a large percentage of the globe. Beginning with the discovery of the New World, European states expanded rapidly overseas and would eventually come to rule over a dizzying array of peoples from sub-Arctic lands to the tropics. All the while European thinkers, merchants, colonial administrators, and government officials drew on a variety of sources to justify their rule over others as they explained themselves at home, to other European states, as well as to local peoples. This course surveys how modern European empires were conceptualized and justified to these various audiences, focusing on the development of debates both in colonies and metropoles.
Topic: Terrorism: A Critical Analysis
In an international climate in which the word ‘terrorist’ is used increasingly often, this seminar will enable students to master a variety of conceptual, analytical and empirical tools for approaching the key contemporary debates on terrorism. The course will review definitions adopted by major organizations and apply them to various forms of terrorism. It will also critically review a range of arguments on the motivations of terrorists and on the effectiveness of specific counter-terrorist strategies, and provide students with the knowledge and skills needed for critically appraising contemporary events.
POLS 430-03 / SEMR 310-01
Topic: "Cross Cultural Perceptions and Representations."
This is an interdisciplinary course, which draws upon literary, political, cultural, and sociological sources. It attempts to understand how our conceptions of the other (and of the self) have contributed to some of the abiding political, sociological and cultural issues which animate our global world – especially where these issues implicate both the west and the Middle East; and, second, to articulate our own hopes for a more promising relationship with the Other. Each week a videoconference will be held to bring together students from AUC and students from various US universities to discuss a pressing issue of concern to both east and west and a shared set of texts that address the issue.
Topic: Politics of Oil: Blessing or Curse?
This is an applied course in geopolitics. We analyze the national and international structures of the oil and gas industries, focusing on the Middle East, its American security umbrella, and great power rivalries over the oil "prize" in this critical region of the world. Students will study oil company strategies and those of producer countries and potential oil or gas producers in the region. How may they escape the “oil curse,” or do the economic windfalls condemn them to dictatorship and environmental degradation? Intra-Arab regional as well as domestic politics will be analyzed in light of their possible effects upon their national oil companies and the industry more generally. Oil, geopolitics, and the global economy are all interrelated, and we will explore their interrelationships.
Topic: Egypt’s Legislative Elections
Under the Mubarak presidency, Egypt's electoral arena was officially a multi-party system. In reality, the former president's party, the National Democratic Party (NDP), won no less than 3/4 of parliamentary seats since the move from a single to multi-party system in 1978. In a non-competitive system such as Egypt’s, it is easy to assume that such elections are meaningless considering they did not determine the outcome of government .However as well examine, elections of this nature do play various political functions. The 2010 legislative elections have proved that in non-competitive elections can also play a significant role in determining government. The legislative elections of 2010 can arguably be regarded as the most significant in the last three decades. This because the constitutional amendments of 2007 meant that the outcome of these elections were intended to determine the candidates viable to compete in the September 2011 presidential elections: a prospect, as the January 2011 revolution reflected was not acceptable to the Egyptian people at large
Topic: Middle East Transformation
Why have we been surprised by “The Arab Spring" ? Is it possible that our conceptual lenses are defective and even misleading? Have we trusted too much "Arab Exceptionalism" , i.e. that the rest of the world changes except this region ?
This course has been offered for the last four years ( long before the 2011-"Arab Spring") to emphasize the importance of looking at regional transformation rather than stagnation
( e.g. korany : The Canging ME , New York & Cairo , AUC Press 2010). The course continues its critical evaluation of different approaches and focuses on some chosen aspects of transformation during and after "the Arab Spring”.
Topic: Contemporary China
An examination of the evolution of Modern China’s political system in the light of Chinese history. Areas for consideration will include - the structure of Chinese political culture, how foreign colonial penetration has triggered a Chinese counter-action, how Communism has served China and how China initiated an unprecedented experiment with market economy. The course will also seek to situate China within its broader Eurasian environment and define its today’s role as major international actor.