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Fall 2009 Colloqium Series: War and Warfare in the Middle East

The region of the Middle/Near East and North Africa has witnessed numerous wars and armed conflicts since ancient times up to the present. Some were a result of territorial expansion by imperial states or nomadic invasions; others were triggered by local competition for resources between two or more countries of the region. Still others were intended or unintended outcomes of broader geopolitical confrontations, such as WWI and WWII and, later on, the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the Western world.  Military technology evolved from the first use of camels and chariots to gunpowder and canon, more recently, also to chemical weapons. Slave armies and feudal military have been replaced by the mass conscripted armies of modern nation states. On the ideological plane, wars and military conflicts have been justified by reference to a wide variety of causes, from the “liberation” of the Holy Land from an “infidel” enemy to Europe’s “civilizing mission”; from establishing the homeland for a people that did not have one to stopping the proliferation of WMD, to the spread of nationalism, Socialism, Islamism, democracy, and so on. Our seminar will examine the political, societal, demographic, and military dimensions of wars and military conflicts in the region as well as their ideological justifications across the centuries.

Virgina Aksan, McMaster University: The Ottoman Empire and the Culture of War

Tom O'Donnell, University of Michigan: Iran and the Nuclear Issue

Gotfried Hagen, University of Michigan: German Jihad in World War I

Orly Halpern, Israeli-American Reporter: Israel's Declared Existential Threats with a Focus on Conversations with Hamas

Fuat Dundar, University of Michigan: The Last Thirty Years of the Kurdish Question in Turkey through Abdulah Ocalan's Biography

Mark Schwartz, Grand Valley State University: Warfare in the Ancient Near East

Walter Kaegi, University of Chicago: The Muslim Conquest of Byzantine North Africa in the Seventh Century

Sherman Jackson, University of Michigan: Jihad