Teaching Documents

Introduction to Comparative Politics

This course is an introduction to the study of domestic political institutions, processes, and outcomes in a comparative setting. It acquaints the students with the main concepts, methods and theories in comparative politics that are necessary for the systematic investigation of different forms of governance that exist today. Starting with a brief survey of the scientific method and subject matter of the field, the first section of the course focuses on the concept of state and its development over time. The second section aims to provide students with a deeper understanding of the major political institutions, including regimes and regime transformations, in the light of lessons drawn from a wide range of advanced industrial democracies, developing states, and Communist and post-Communist countries. While discussing topics like ethnic conflicts, revolutions and social movements, that section also illustrates (and compares) the mechanisms through which different political systems develop and adapt to their changing environments. Finally, the last section of the course investigates the role of the state in economy and its efforts to balance efficiency and social equality, by using cultural, structural and institutional frameworks. In the end, this introductory course intends to offer students some key theories and analytical tools to make meaningful comparisons across and within cases, and show them how the concepts of comparative politics work in real world affairs.
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Islam and European Politics

This course will investigate the complexity and diversity of Islam in Europe with the intention of creating a more nuanced understanding and deeper knowledge of the current place of Muslims in the region. After a brief introduction to the historical foundations of the Muslim presence in European countries, the course will first explore the predominantly Muslim countries of the Balkan region, with a particular emphasis on the socioeconomic, political and cultural processes have shaped these countries in comparison to their Christian counterparts. The second part of the course will look at the indigenous Islamic minorities of Eastern Europe and their strategies for co-habitation the majority religious and ethnic groups in their countries. The third part of the course will concentrate on the Muslim immigrant communities of Western Europe. In this part of the course we will focus on the interactions between Islamic groups and the larger state and society; the changing perceptions of Muslims in the aftermath of 9/11, and the development of Islamic institutions in host countries. In the light of current political events and controversies, the final part of the course will deal with the forces of –seemingly- unassimilable Islamic communities, prospects of integration and further democratization in Europe; and raises various questions on the compatibility of Islam and democracy as well as the future of the Muslim minorities in Eastern and Western Europe.
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Politics of the Middle East

This course offers an overview of modern Middle Eastern politics with the intention to create a more nuanced understanding and deeper knowledge of the current events in the region. Breaking away from the one-dimensional tradition of “Middle Eastern exceptionalism,” the course puts the states and societies of the Arab and non-Arab countries into a comparative perspective, and uses the concepts, methods and theories of the comparative politics to examine and explain the political institutions and practices of the region. After a brief introduction to the historical foundations of the Modern Middle East, the course first explores the identity-formation and state-formation in the region, with a particular emphasis on the clash of national identities with the ethnic, religious and tribal identities. The Arab-Israeli conflict, the role of major powers in this context and main obstacles to its resolution provide the link between the state-oriented theme of the course and the second, social movements-oriented, one. This second part of the course covers a wide variety of topics, ranging from the rise of political Islam and ethnic and sectarian fragmentation in the region to the contested issues of secularism, socioeconomic inequality and political violence in a broader perspective. In the light of current political events and recent changes in political institutions, the third and final part of the course deals with the forces of –seemingly- resilient authoritarianism, prospects of regime change and democratization in the Middle East; and raises various questions on the compatibility of Islam and democracy as well as the future of the region after the 2011 uprisings.
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Religion and Politics

This course is an introduction to the study of religion and its interactions with political institutions, processes, and outcomes in a comparative setting. It acquaints the students with the main concepts, methods and theories in this research area to facilitate their understanding of different religious and political actors as well as their relations with each other in a comparative setting. Starting with a brief survey of subject matter, the first section of the course focuses on the concepts of religion and religious authority, and investigates the development of religious institutions (be it the Church or the Caliphate) over time without going too much into theological debates. The second section aims to demonstrate the blurry boundaries between the sacred and the secular in order to provide students with a deeper understanding of the conflictual areas between the two. While discussing topics like education, family affairs, healthcare, social welfare and regime types, this section also illustrates (and compares) the mechanisms through which different belief systems develop and adapt to their changing political environments. Finally, the last section of the course investigates the role of the state in controlling (or regulating) religious affairs, by using its cultural, structural and institutional frameworks. In the end, this introductory course intends to offer students some key theories and analytical tools to make meaningful comparisons across and within cases, and show them how religion and politics interact in policy debates and real world affairs.
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Democratization in Global Perspective

The global expansion of democratic regimes since the mid-1970s led to the acceptance of democracy as only broadly legitimate form of the government in world politics. However, despite the initial euphoria created by this “democratic age”, political scientists soon noticed that the regional differences persisted when it comes to the degree, complexity and consolidation of global democracy. In its attempts to explain these differences in the structure and performance of democratic forms of governance, this course revolves around the questions of why, when and how democratic regimes emerge, become consolidated and decay or collapse. Going beyond the famous “transition paradigm”, it first explores the success and failure of democratization efforts by focusing on the social and economic preconditions of democracy, elite and mass movements and the role of existing political institutions. Then, it moves on to the concept of democratic consolidation, and covers a range of topics like formal institutions, political culture, civil society and civil-military relations in a global perspective. After discussing the explanatory strength of these key mechanisms, it turns to the prospects and challenges for democracy in contemporary world, especially to the more recent risks and instances associated with democratic decay and authoritarian reversals. The primary aim of this course is, in this sense, threefold: to gain an in-depth understanding of the democratic theory to the extent of being able to problematize the foundational issues of democracy; to examine the most important political, social, economic and cultural factors that promote or hinder its development; and to critically examine and evaluate the quality of democracy and prospects of democratization in different parts of the world, including the cases from the Middle East, Africa, Latin America and former Soviet Union.
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Turkish Government and Politics

Located on the edge of Europe and frontier of the Middle East, Turkey has consistently faced dilemmas in defining and re-defining its identity and role in world politics. Deserving the “torn-country” title used by Huntington, the country continues to present many paradoxes in its political institutions and raise important questions regarding a range of themes in comparative politics, such as democratic consolidation, ethnic politics, role of religion in politics and the civil-military relations. The main purpose of this course is to seek answers to these questions by using Turkey as a case study, as well as to introduce students to the key political actors, persistent problems, major debates in politics and various fault lines in Turkish society. In its approach to these themes, the course follows the general patterns of continuity (with the Ottoman past and Islamic roots) and change (with the influence of modern ideas such as nationalism, freedom and secularism) to explain the complex conflicts that shape the government and politics in Turkey. Through these discussions and in-depth analyses, it also aims to provide students with necessary skills, concepts and methodological tools to interpret contemporary issues in comparative politics.
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