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Minor in Middle Eastern Studies

Cultures of the Middle East (ANTH 3319)

Cultures of the Middle East is an anthropology course that explores the diversity of ways of life in the Middle East.  Focused on understanding people and their everyday lives, anthropology investigates issues such as kinship and family, marriage, food and eating, language, social interactions, music and other media, class, status, ethnicity, social economics, religion, subsistence activities, rituals, behaviors, beliefs ideology and much more.

This class is integrated with UALR Middle Eastern Studies public cultural events such as the annual Middle Eastern Film festival and a Middle Eastern Cultures Party.  The cultures party features music, dancing, food, games and cultural displays.  Students in the Middle Eastern Cultures class play a large role in throwing this party.  The Middle Eastern Film festival highlights great feature and documentary films from and about the region.  Both events are free and open to the public!

An example outline of the course and some of the topics we address during the semester (this list is not exhaustive and is subject to change):

Introduction to the course, Anthropological Approaches to the Middle East

Middle of What? East of Where?  Introduction to geography and environment of the ME

Cultural Diversity:  Language, Religion, Ethnic Groups

Judaism, Christianity and Islam:  Common roots and shared culture

The power of the past in the contemporary Middle East –archaeology, history and visions of nomadism

Colonial Legacies in the Middle East

Western Views of the Middle East:  Orientalism and its offshoots

Anthropological Ethnography as Method and Literature

Nomadic Life:  The Economics of Pastoralism

Agriculture and Village Life in the Middle East

Kinship:  Marriage, Family Structures, Kin Terms, and Familial Responsibilities

Gender, Women, Veiling etc

Gender, Men, and Family

Islam:  Cultural Practices, Prayer, Fasting, Holidays, etc

Judiasm:  Religion and Ethnicity, Arab and Western Jews across the Middle East

Christianity:  Egyptian Copts, Syrian Othodox Church, other denominations and coexistence with other religions

Traditional and Pop Music

TV and Film on and in the Middle East

The social uses of Poetry

Food and Eating, Etiquette

Beauty and Appearance: Clothing, Body Adornment, Jewelry, Tatooing, Cosmetic Surgery etc

Urban Lives in the Contemporary Middle East:  Examples such as Cairo, Beirut, Jerusalem, Sanaa

Tribalism and Nationalism

Culture and National Politics


War, Peace, and Challenges: Iraq, Palestine/Israel, and beyond

Democracy and Human Rights in the Middle East

Updated 12.5.2011