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BA Arabic Studies / Course details

Year of entry: 2020

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Course unit details:
Themes in the Histories of Arab and Jewish Nationalisms

Unit code MEST20271
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This course examines key questions and themes pertaining to the formation and consolidation of collective identities in the 20th Century Middle East


On successful completion of the course unit students should have developed skills for critical analysis of the phenomenon of nationalism as one of the world’s most potent forces; understand some issues in the 20th Century formation of Egypt and Israel/Palestine.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course students should be able to:


How do collective identities come into existence? How do nations emerge (or disintegrate thereof)? What best accounts for the development of nations: ideology, the economy, societal transformation, politics, cultural formation or technological change? This course examines these and other key questions and themes pertaining to the consolidation of collective identities in the 20th Century Middle East while utilising theoretical studies that focus on additional regions. As such, the course explores the emergence and consolidation of collective identities on competing bases (such as ethnicity, language, region, class, religion, etc).

Overview of Blackboard content:  Primary sources and lecture notes will be made available in blackboard


Knowledge and understanding

On completion of this unit successful participants should have reached an advanced level of foundational knowledge in the general study of the phenomenon of nationalism; be able to discuss and analyse its competing schools of scholarly thought; be able to comment in an informed manner on a range of controversies surrounding the study of Jewish and Arab nationalisms.

Practical skills

The foundational knowledge acquired should assist in any position in the private or public sector that deals with Egypt and Israel/Palestine.

Assessment methods

Assessment task


Weighting within unit


1X 2000 words





Assessment task


Weighting within unit


1.15 h



Feedback methods

  • oral feedback
  • written feedback on essay
  • additional one-to-one feedback (during the consultation hour)

Recommended reading

Hutchinson, John, & Smith, Anthony D. (eds.), Nationalism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994);

Anderson, Benedict, Imagined Communities (London: Verso 1991);

Breuilly, John, Nationalism and the State (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982);

Gellner, Ernest, Nations and Nationalism (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1983);

Smith, Anthony, National Identity (Reno: University of Nevada Press, 1991);

Behar, Moshe, “Do Comparative and Regional Studies of Nationalism Intersect?” International Journal of Middle East Studies, Issue 37/4 (2005), pp. 587-612. 

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 22
Seminars 11
Independent study hours
Independent study 167

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Moshe Behar Unit coordinator

Additional notes

Level: 2

Pre-requisite: none

Available to all students.

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