Introduction to the Anthropology of Islam and the Middle East

Course content

This course seeks to provide a broad-based introduction to the core themes and ideas of the anthropology of the Middle East, and by extension of the Anthropology of Islam. It begins by exploring the reasons behind the relatively late emergence of the Middle East as an area of study, before moving on to consider such topics as Orientalism, Gender, rural vs. urban anthropology, the role of religion (traditional and modern), and the forging of a regional subjectivity (as witnessed in the ongoing uprisings throughout the Middle East – the so-called “Arab Spring”). The course is intended both to stand alone as a regional module, and to offer a overview of the issues for those students who wish to take their study of the Middle East one step further.

Learning outcome

The goal of this course is twofold: simultaneously theoretical and empirical. By the end of the course, students are expected to have a firm grasp of the development of the anthropology of the Middle East and of Islam, from its colonial origins to contemporary work. They are also expected to have a clear idea of key lines of tension and conflict in the Middle East today and to be able to discuss the contemporary geo-political and cultural situation. In the exam, the student must with clear language and lucidly argumentation exhibit that the he/she is capable of:

• identifying an independent anthropological problem statement relevant to the course's subject matter
• demonstrating factual knowledge of a selected ethnographic field and/or empirical considerations relevant to the course’s subject matter
• demonstrating insight into selected central theoretical concepts relevant to the chosen subject area and course material
• conducting an analysis based on central concepts or themes presented during the course.

Students must also fulfil the Department of Anthropology's form and language requirements (see the curriculum 4.3.2 for more about form and language requirements).

A combination of lectures, discussions, student presentations and group work

BSc students and MSc students: 500 pages obligatory literature.

The teacher will publish 200-300 pages of supplementary literature.

Course literature will be available through Absalon.

Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment
Type of assessment details
Length: Portfolio exam can be written individually or in groups of Max. 4 students. Portfolio exams consist of 2-7 submissions. For MA students, there is a submission more than for BA students, i.e. if the BA student has to submit five submissions, the MA students must submit six submissions. The number of submissions is set by the lecturer. The total length of all of the submissions must be max. 30,000 keystrokes for one student. For groups of two students, Max. 40,000 keystrokes. For groups of three students, Max. 45,000 keystrokes and for groups of four students, Max. 50,000 keystrokes. In the case of group assignments, the contribution of each individual student must be clearly marked in the assignment. For groups with both BA and MA students, the same number of submissions is required as for MA students. The assignments are assessed jointly with a single grade.
All aids allowed
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Criteria for exam assessment

See learning outcome

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 42
  • Preparation
  • 100
  • Exam
  • 64
  • English
  • 206


Course number
7,5 ECTS
Programme level
Bachelor choice
Full Degree Master choice

1 semester

See timetable
Department of Anthropology, Study Council
Contracting department
  • Department of Anthropology
Contracting faculty
  • Faculty of Social Sciences
Course Coordinator
  • Matthew Alexander Halkes Carey   (13-7b6f82827673853c716f8073874e6f7c8276807d3c79833c7279)
Saved on the 29-04-2022

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