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Politics of Contemporary Lebanon and Syria

Class at Faculty of Arts |


1) Introduction: Modern Levant, Mandates and formation of sectarian identities2) Lebanon: Formation of the independent state, Civil war and reconciliation, (memory, trauma, after effects of the war)3) Syria: Baathism, politics and reform of authoritarian state4) Lebanon: The post-civil war republic, political economy, hybrid security and breakdown of the state

5) Syria: Road to civil War, War and Current Stalled Conflict

6) Comparison and conclusion: Migration, refugees, economic misery and resillience

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This course offers an introduction to the politics of contemporary Lebanon and Syria. It aims to go beyond historical narration of facts and events and provide a broader overview of different social issues and processes that underpin and structure political contestations in both countries.

The course starts with brief critical reflection on studying the Middle Eastern politics, discussing the challenges of methodological nationalism and applicability of standard Western Political Science concepts. In the following lectures, the course attends to historical background, focusing mostly on the 20th century history and formation of Syria and Lebanon as distinct political arenas.

The course zooms in on several periods in the current history of both countries and uses them to discuss the wider issues that structure their politics (authoritarianism, political economy, sectarian power-sharing, political conflict etc.). The course will be concluded with discussion of three overlapping issues in comparative perspective.

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