Democrats and Democratization in the Middle East: Iran and Turkey in Comparison
The course introduces competing approaches to the role of ordinary people and political institutions in the processes of democratization in the Middle East. Compatibility between "Islam" and democracy has provided an inefficient and misleading focus for the field. Criticizing the essentializing tendencies of both positive and negative arguments of compatibility, we will abandon this framework. Instead of treating ?Islamic? religion and culture as factors shaping the prospects of democratization, we will study social and political processes with a specific focus on ordinary people and state institutions. How do the states and societies in the Middle East transform and/or fail to do so? What kind of interactions take place among and between the democrats, their opponents and the authoritarian states in the region? How do ordinary people perceive, experience and contest over political reforms and the terms of democratization? The specific comparative interest in Turkey and Iran will provide rich material for both comparison and contrast.