L98 330C Culture & Identity: Landscapes of US Power and Intervention: Critical Geographies of the Middle East
I am most excited to present students with a different perspective on Arab peoples and countries than the normative clichés that are often disseminated to an American audience. Instead of talking about war, terrorism, and destruction, I want to look at how the region is materially and socially constructed through the built environment. I want to show that the region is complex, modern, and that Arabs face many of the same challenges that Americans do.
I would like to highlight the interdisciplinary nature of this course. While the course emphasizes political economy and critical urban theory, it will also introduce students to different geographic theories, which will be applied to case studies across the contemporary Middle East. Given the absence of a Geography department and a dearth of courses on contemporary Middle Eastern cities at WashU, this course fills a much-needed gap in the curriculum.
The course approaches the concept of space as a social relation, and through that lens, students will explore the power relations that are embodied in the built environment. The intention of the course is to get students to think critically about the Middle East and for them to challenge their own conceptions of the region.
Sami Tayeb is a new lecturer in American Culture Studies. He earned his M.A. in Middle East Studies from the American University of Beirut and has lived and worked in several Arab countries. He writes about political economy, urban development, and the Middle East and has been published in Middle East Report and the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. He recently moved to St. Louis from Washington, DC and is excited to be teaching at Washington University this spring.