HI 390: Mecca to Dubai: Cities in the Middle East
Professor Betty S. Anderson
In recent years, images from the urban Middle East have run the gambit from millions of people protesting in Tahrir Square in Cairo, to the unveiling of the newest hotel designed by a renowned international “starchitect” in Dubai, to the destruction of much of Aleppo. The Middle East is a predominantly urban region and its turbulent political events and its vibrant cultural currents all run through its city streets.
This course examines Middle Eastern history through the lens of its cities, focusing on Mecca, Damascus, Jerusalem, Baghdad, Cairo, Istanbul, Tehran, Beirut, Damascus, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha. In these cities, caliphs, presidents and kings ruled; religious clerics adjudicated Islamic law; architects and artists constructed magnificent monuments; and merchants traded the world’s goods. Cities have also been the centers for literary and scientific experimentation, educational expansion, and social entertainment. Today, they are the epicenter for both political protest and neoliberal globalization. A close examination of the region’s cities provides a window on to developments in governance, religion, and culture. Classes will include historical lectures, discussions about the readings, and displays of images, music and films that illustrate the diversity of experiences to be found in Middle Eastern cities.