NEW course offered in Winter 2013:
HIST 498.001 Topics in History: Historical Ethnographies of Post-Ottoman Societies. Instructor: Al-Rustom, Hakem. (3 credits)
This senior/graduate course combines ethnographies and social historical accounts to explore and critique the representation of the past in various post-Ottoman nation-state polities. It focuses on contemporary issues in the wider context of the Middle East and Balkans in order to probe regionalism and state borders that led to the emergence of two ‘regions:’ one eastern and Muslim (Middle East), the other European and Christian (Balkans). Juxtaposing these two geopolitical entities will provide an alternative perspective on the contested borders of ‘Europe’ and the ‘Middle East’ and their implications for societies and especially ethno-religious minorities that ended up remaining on the ‘wrong’ side of a new border or were displaced and ethnically cleansed. This course is an anthropological approach to understand the role of history in contemporary politics and the ways one can locate the past in everyday cultural practices.
The readings will shed new light on understanding modern day politics and everyday cultural practices. Through ethnographic and social history accounts of the post-Ottoman societies, this course deconstructs the existing binary representations of the post-Ottoman territories. The readings cover a range of topics including the contextual identity formation; politics of archaeology, archives and oral history; memory and violence; and the ‘negative archive’. The course aims at achieving two goals: (1) helping students locate new ways of tracing, writing about, and interpreting the past in contemporary societies; (2) considering alternative conceptual framework for post-colonial and post-imperial societies in the Middle East and the Balkans.