Politics of Postcolonial Memory in the Contemporary Middle East

History 103F.004

Fall 2013
Day & Time: 
M 10-12P

The “Arab Spring” has brought the writing and telling of histories of postcolonial violence in the Middle East—one (arguably the) key means of political contestation in the region in recent decades—ever more center-stage. This course introduces students to the wide variety of discourses that emerged in the region in the last three decades, often under the rubric, often of “truth and reconciliation,” in the broad sense of the public narration of political violence. Key to this have been contests over what kinds of narratives and narrative modes have been taken to be ‘historical’ and when, e.g. over oral history, testimony, and literature or film as history. The region provides especially potent case studies for thinking through the complexity and variety of memory politics. In particular, the course examines the respective roles played by the state, civil society,  international idioms (e.g. of liberalism, individualism, human rights, nationalism and resistance) and U.S. involvement in suppressing, promoting, and co-opting collective memories of violence both before and during the “Arab Spring”, excavating their roots in colonial and postcolonial history and historiography, including with reference to histories of US involvement in selected cases. Country studies will include all or most of Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Morocco, Iraq, Iran, Turkey and Israel/Palestine.

Course Books

The Rise and Fall of Human Rights: Cynicism and Politics in Occupied Palestine by Allen, Lori Stanford University Press. ISBN: 978-0804784719 Required
Israel's Holocaust and the Politics of Nationhood by Zertal, Idith Cambridge University Press. ISBN: 978-0521616461 Required
Ghosts of Revolution: Rekindled Memories of Imprisonment in Iran by Talebi, Shahla Stanford University Press. ISBN: 978-0804772013 Required
Silencing the Past. Power and the Production of History by Trouillot, Michel-Rolph Beacon Press. ISBN: 978-0807043110 Required
The Politics of Public Memory in Turkey by Oyzurek, Esra, ed. Syracuse University Press. ISBN: 978-0815631316 Required
Memory and Violence in the Middle East and North Africa by Makdisi, Ussama and Silverstein, Paul A., eds. Indiana University Press. ISBN: 978-0253217981 Required
Memories of State: Politics, History, and Collective Identity in Modern Iraq by Davis, Eric University of California Press. ISBN: 978-0520235465 Required
The Performance of Human Rights in Morocco by Slyomovics, Susan University of Pennsylvania Press. ISBN: 978-0812219043 Required
War and Memory in Lebanon by Haugbolle, Sune Cambridge University Press. ISBN: 978-1107405547 Required