Comparative Middle East Education in the Global Age of Empire

History 103M.001

Fall 2018
Instructor (text): 
Archana Prakash
3205 Dwinelle
Day & Time: 
T 12-2
Class Number: 

Education is simultaneously an agent of change and a repository of values, revealing a great deal about the belief systems operating in a given society, as well as the shifting constellation of social and political interests at a given time. This course examines the history of “modern” education in the Middle East and North Africa, from the Napoleonic conquest of Egypt in 1798 through the end of World War II, in relation to issues of women and gender, religion, class, state-building, and nationalism.

How do developments in education in the Middle East compare to the evolution of education more globally in the age of colonial empire? To answer this question, we will examine developments in technical higher education in contexts of colonialism as well as defensive modernization, debates over the education of women and the implementation of universal primary education, how Western models of education were both imposed, but also actively taken and refashioned in the region, and how these non-religious modes of education interacted with their counterpart traditional religious institutions. Case studies include examples from the Ottoman Empire, Algeria, Egypt, mandate Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine, Iran, and Iraq, with comparative global examples from France and Great Britain, India, China, Russia, and sub-Saharan Africa.

Archana Prakash received her Ph.D. in Middle East History from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and previously taught courses on the history of the Middle East and Islam at Stanford University. Her research examines how Egyptians transformed European knowledge by implementing it through modern education in Egypt, as well as how Egyptian ideas about education and knowledge evolved over the course of the nineteenth century.