Write a 2000-2500-word essay on one of the suggested topics below, or on another topic that you and the instructor have agreed on. Footnotes are included in the word count. The bibliography is not included in the word count
- What is the ‘Arab World’? • Can cartography (or the power of mapping) alone define ‘Arabness’? • Is ‘Arab’ an ‘ethnos’? What is ‘ethnos’? • How does remapping of the ‘Arab World’ necessitate re-writing of its history? • What is the role of the Arabic language and Islam in the formation of the Arab world historically? • In what ways has the history of the formation of the ‘Arab World’ as a mappable territorial entity contributed to the definition of ‘Arabness’ today? Refer to Week 1 and 2 readings 2.
- Discuss the ways in which Muslim reformists (such as Jamal al-Din alAfghani and Muhammad Abdu) articulated the general problem of “inner decay and the need for an inner revival” within the Arab and Muslim worlds. • In what ways did the European colonial powers influence key Muslim reformists? • What are the implications of this revival as it relates to religious reform and political thought? • Can reform be derived from the principles of Islamic law, or is it necessary to go to the teachings and practices of modern Europe? • Is there in fact any contradiction between the two? • In what ways are these attempts at an “inner revival” relevant today in the Arab and Muslim world? Refer to Week 4 and 5 readings 3.
- Arab nationalism is both a product of and response to the European colonisation of the ‘Arab World’ in the 19th and 20th centuries. Discuss. • What are the major ways in which Europe (particularly France and Britain) extended their influence in the Middle East? • What kinds of reform were promulgated by this cultural exchange? • Did European notions of nationalism travel to the Middle East during the cultural exchange of the colonial period? • Was Arab nationalism a response to European colonization alone? • What are the major principles of Arab nationalism? • What was/is the impact of de facto division of the ‘Arab World’ into nation-states on Arab nationalism? • Do the political borders recently imposed on the various Arab nationstates have an impact on the ways in which Arabs identify themselves as members of a political community? • Could you give an example? • Is it be possible to reconcile between the political reality of nationstates and Arab nationalism? Refer to Week 5 and Week 7 readings 4.
- What is ‘Orientalism’? Discuss its relevance to cultural studies. Give relevant examples from the Arab world. • Why is the understanding of ‘perspective’ and ‘position’ of the orientalist important? • What hegemonic discourse is pervasive in representing the ‘Orient.’ • How have the people of the ‘Orient’ been depicted historically. • How does the discourse of orientalism intersect with the ideology of colonialism? • How is the question of representation of the Arab world relevant today? (in media, policy, and culture) Refer to Week 2, Week 9, and 10.
- Discuss the main points made in Edward Said’s The Question of Palestine. (Note: this essay question is not meant to be descriptive book review. It requires a critical engagement with the main ideas made in the book). • What was the main motivation behind Said’s book? • To whom is the book directed? • In what ways is the question of Palestinian understood within the wider history of colonialism? • How is ‘Orientalism’ relevant in the understanding of the ‘Question of Palestine’? What is meant by the following quote: “We must understand the struggle between Palestinians and Zionism as a struggle between a presence and an interpretation, the former constantly appearing to be overpowered and eradicated by the latter.” p.8. • How is the question of Palestine relevant to Arabic culture today? • What are the competing discourses behind the differing mappings of Palestine/Israel? • How would you evaluate Edward Said’s stance on the Question of Palestine? Refer to Week 11 readings .