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Indiana University Bloomington
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Course Description

What is Middle Eastern? Perspectives Gained through Comparison with Israel (3 cr)
Aziza Khazzoom
JSTU-J 304 Social & Historical Topics in Jewish Studies #16591 / NELC-N 304 Issues in Middle Eastern Culture & Society #16594
TR 1:00-2:15 (BH 214

Meets with NELC-N 695 #12971

The course examines work that makes  claims about Middle Eastern dynamics, by describing histories, gender regimes, secular/religious tensions, etc, that are perceived as both common across  Middle Eastern societies and substantially different from those in other  societies. It then uses Israel, as a possible new case of the larger concept  “Middle Eastern society,” to provide a fresh perspective on what does and does not hold the Middle East together. This approach is unusual, in that Israel is generally not considered a Middle Eastern society. It was, after all,  established by European settlers using a European nationalist ideology. However, about half of Israel’s population originated from the Middle East, Judaism  arguably has more in common with Islam than with Christianity, and the  prevailing sense that Israel is foreign to the Middle East may itself reflect a  shared history of Orientalism and exchange with the west. Israel, therefore, potentially provides an “outlier” case that challenges preconceived notions of  what it means to be Middle Eastern, in the process strengthening the analytical tools used by all.