RELIGION 209: Religion in the Contemporary Middle East
Professor Ronald C. Kiener, Department of Religion
This course will explore the impact of religion in contemporary Middle
Eastern (or:Fertile Crescent; or:Levantine) culture through the study of Middle Eastern monotheisms: Islam,
Judaism, and, to a lesser degree, Christianity. We will focus on specific
national settings where religion seems to have played a decisive role: Lebanon, Egypt, Iran,
and Israel. We will pay particular attention to the impact of "the Arab Spring" of 2011. Internal divisions and tensions will be explored: Sunnism vs.
Shicism, and modernism vs. fundamentalism in Islam; secularism vs.
theocracy, and nationalism vs. messianism in Israeli Judaism; and colonialism
vs. nativism in Christianity. Ultimately, we will examine the so-called
"interreligious" conflicts (e.g., the Israeli-Arab dispute, the Lebanese civil war, oftentimes cast
as a religious quarrel) with an eye towards defining what role religion plays
in such conflicts.