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Course Review: MENA Authoritarianism

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Ed Webb

on 6 May 2010

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Transcript of Course Review: MENA Authoritarianism

Materials Countries Concepts Henry and Springborg = "extremely dull" very educational, but "made me want to cry"
useful for research (citations)
had helpful categorizations, models of colonization
talk about more in class; split up concepts? Wedeen
introduced that authoritarianism encompasses many variables, including symbols, psychology
different from other materials in analysis
"cult of personality" very interesting
nice to have a case study; thus could give specific examples, which allowed ability to contrast with other regimes
could be interesting to have specific focus on "traditional" tools of authoritarian regimes (ie military police) Brownlee
"gave nice comparisons" with other regions and within MENA (Egypt and Iran)
had convincing argument (focus on parties and elites)
ended up being integrated into our arguments/discussions, but not memorable by itself
"keeper" Kinzer
"favorite book" - easy to read and also educational - "awesome"
gave very valuable history (which was lacking in other materials)
showed US involvement in region, with real examples
also showed the multitude of actors involved
another good example of a case study
would be useful to have a brief overview - was a bit confusing to keep track of all the characters
showed colonial attitudes towards Iran (more good historical background)
gave good background behind reasons for animosity between countries Satrapi
"anthropological perspective" - valuable to have woman's view - gave different perspective (more day-to-day)
good combo of insider's view and someone who also has been exposed to outside/Western society
very simplified and only one person's view - too limiting? could be useful to have a broader view of the Revolution (other than wikipedia)
good overlaps and chronological transition between Kinzer and Satrapi
"cartoon" style surprisingly good
Webb- book useful to "provoke thought" and provide insight into information that is already out there
could be interesting to see alternative opinion (someone who supported Revolution) Political Science readings
Pauline's major criticism - "THEY'RE ALL THE SAME!" (all poli sci blended together)
would be good to have case studies tied with political sci article - combo of theory and concrete examples)
at least, the poli sci articles all started the same, but then differed in arguments - Webb - shows the good quality of theoretical development on the topic
"searching where the light shines" - showed importance of questioning things that have been generally accepted
could be good to revisit the argument that democracy is the best system to promote (was introduced in beginning of course)
"beloved by all" potential course additions:
article on "so-called democracies" (ie Iran, Israel, Turkey) -useful to cover/use our previous knowledge on Iraq and Saudi Arabia
- Gulf States (need more - Yemen/UAE/Bahrain/Qatar)
- Academic Content that covers Iraq/Libya is weak
- What about Afghanistan? = "Greater MENA"
- Monarchies - Discussion on the often overlooked Kuwait was useful Are we equipped to say/think interesting things about the region? - It's a loaded question, but we're better equipped to not look like fools
- Appreciate the diversity of Auth. Regimes
- H&S - the islamic banking model/lack of transparency chapters were good, but class discussion could have furthered understanding How can we distinguish between these states?
-Secular vs. non-secular - does it matter? Sometimes the people can be more conservative than their regime Final Thoughts -focus on case studies earlier on, divided between classes
-then, later on, use case studies as reference points
+ Case studies should come after understanding of theories
-When you don't have background knowledge to apply the theories to, they can go over your head
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