77918 - History and international Relations of The Middle East

Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Peace, justice and strong institutions

Academic Year 2022/2023

Learning outcomes

The course examines the historical development of the International Relations of the Middle East from the early XIX century to current events. At the end of the course, students will acquire a better understanding of: The patterns of interaction between local institutions (Empires, nation-states, regional organizations, sub and trans-national groups) and their counterparts in Europe, North America, Asia and Africa; The interaction between regional and global patterns of economic development; The influence of international factors on the patterns of state-building in the Middle East. Eventually, students will acquire the necessary tools to analyze critically the interaction between the agency of local and regional forces and international and global dynamics affecting the region. Students will also master the historiographic and political debate concerning the region; and will be able to elaborate analytical and interpretative products about the Middle East and its role in international politics.

Course contents

The course is organized in lectures and seminars, as detailed in the following program. The aim is to enhance the interaction between the Professor and students.

Lectures (16 hours) aim to introduce students to the core tenets of the discipline. Seminars (12 hours) aim to provide occasions for in-depth discussions of class materials and exercises. For the seminar section of the course, students will be divided in 2 groups. Students attend a total of 28 hours of classes.

Students are required to carefully read the assigned material before the class. Active participation through the discussion of existing scholarship and case studies is highly recommended.

Flexibility and changes on the structure of the course might take place due to emergency contingencies as well as suggestions from students.

Section A.

8 Lectures (2 hrs each) aim to introduce students to the core tenets of the discipline and the political chronology of the region.

Section B (Seminars SEM1 and SEM2)

B. Two Alternative Seminars of 6 lectures (2 hrs each) aim to provide occasions for in-depth discussions of specific topics


Section A

An Introduction to the International History of the Middle East: topics and dynamics.

During the Section A students will be provided with an introduction to the international history and relations of the Middle East. Here below the topics for each lecture:

  1. Introduction to the Course and the Review of International Studies on the Middle East: Historiography and IR Literature; the case of Complex-Realism.
  2. A Chronology of Political Orders in the MENA: Empires and Colonialism, XIX-XX centuries
  3. A Chronology of Political Orders in the MENA: from early Independence and the Mandates to the "Liberal 1950s"
  4. A Chronology of Political Orders in the MENA:Populist Authoritarianism, 1960s
  5. A Chronology of Political Orders in the MENA:Resetting Populist Authoritarianism in the Age of Oil and its Demise, 1970s-1980s
  6. A Chronology of Political Orders in the MENA:Crisis and Political Islam, 1970s
  7. A Chronology of Political Orders in the MENA: from Western Neoliberalism to MENA Neoliberalism, 1990s-2000s
  8. A Chronology of Political Orders in the MENA: Uprisings, Wars and Uprisings, 2011-2021


Section B

Power and Politics of International Integration in the Middle East and North Africa

This section aims at analysing some patterns of integration of the Middle East and North Africa into the different political and economic orders of the XX and XXI centuries. Dynamics of hegemony and resistance within and without the area will be highlighted through the case-studies of:

SEMINAR 1. The Global Cold War in the Middle East (12 hours)

SEMINAR 2. Power and Integration in the Mediterranean Space (12 hours)

Students MUST choose and attend ONLY ONE among the two SEMINARS of Section B.


SEMINAR 1. The Global Cold War in the Middle East (12 hours)

  1. Diversification of international relations and regional conflicts: 1950s
  2. The High Times of the Cold War in the MENA: the "Arab Cold War": 1960s
  3. Oil, Conflicts and the Cold War: 1970s
  4. Shattering Cards: the Revolution in Iran 1979 and Political Islam
  5. Crisis Unfolding: 1980s
  6. From Cold War Order to the New International Order: the Gulf War in 1991

SEMINAR 2. Power and Integration in the Mediterranean Space (12 hours).

  1. The Mediterranean Space in International and Global History
  2. The EU-Mediterranean Relations in International and Global History
  3. The EU-Mediterranean space: Development and Socio-Economic Divisions
  4. The Middle East in the Mediterranean: Frameworks and Policies by Middle East countries the XXI Century
  5. The US in the Mediterranean: Frameworks and Policies in XXI Centuries
  6. Russia and China in the Mediterranean: Frameworks and Policies in XXI Centuries


All students are required to study the Main Textbook.

The Readings of Section 1 are recommended as a further integration to the main Textbook. Instead, the Readings of the Seminars are compulsory. All the Readings will be available on the Unibo online platform VIRTUALE (https://virtuale.unibo.it [https://virtuale.unibo.it/) since early September.

Main Textbook

William Cleveland, Martin Bunton, A History of the Modern Middle East, Boulder CO: Westview Pres (at least since the Fifth edition): From Chapter 9 of Part Two onwards


Readings, which related to the specific topics of single lectures, will be uploaded on the online platform VIRTUALE (https://virtuale.unibo.it [https://virtuale.unibo.it/) since next early September.

These readings will provide students with more differentiated analysis on the topics under scrutiny, with two aims: first, to let them acknowledge the current scientific debate; second, to stimulate active participation to in-depth discussions during classes, both with Professor and colleagues.


List of Readings

Sections A

Lecture 1:

Fred Lawson, "International Relations Theory and the Middle East" in Louise Fawcett (eds.), International Relations of the Middle East, 3rd ed., Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2013

Raymond Hinnebusch, "Complex Realism" in Louise Fawcett (eds.), International Relations of the Middle East, 3rd ed., Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2013

Lecture 2:

Main Textbook: Part 3

Amira Bennison, "Muslim Universalism and Western Globalization" in A.G. Hopkins (eds.), Globalization in History and History in Globalization, Pimlico, London, 2002

Lecture 3:

Main Textbook: Part 4 (chapters 14-15)

Lecture 4:

Main Textbook: Part 4 (chapter 16-17)

Pfeifer, Karen, "Social Structure of Accumulation Theory for the Arab World: The Economies of Egypt, Jordan and Kuwait in the Regional System" (2010). Economics: Faculty Publications, Smith College, Northampton, MA, https://scholarworks.smith.edu/eco_facpubs/21

Lecture 5:

Main Textbook: Part 5 (chapters 19-20-21)

Lecture 6:

Main Textbook: Part 5 (chapters 18-20-21)

Lecture 7:

Main Textbook: Part 6 (chapters 22-23-24)

Adam Hanieh, "Khaleeji-Capital: Class-Formation and Regional Integration in the Middle-East Gulf", Historical Materialism, 18, 2010, pp. 35–76

Lecture 8:

Main Textbook: Part 6 (chapters 25)

Asef Bayat, "Activism and Social Development in the Middle East", International Journal of Middle East Studies, 34, 1, 2002, pp. 1-28

Raymond Hinnebusch, "Structure over Agency: The Arab Uprising and the Regional Struggle for Power" in Sypridon Litsas and Aristotle Tziampiris eds. The Eastern Mediterranean in Transition, Ashgate, London, 2015, pp. 119-132

Morten Valborn, André Bank, "The New Arab Cold War: rediscovering the Arab dimension of Middle East regional politics", Review of International Studies, 2011, pp. 1-22


Section B. SEMINAR 1

Lecture 1:

Peter Sluglett, "The Cold War in the Middle East" in Louise Fawcett (eds.), International Relations of the Middle East, 3rd ed. Oxford University Press, Oxford

Nathan Citino, "The Ottoman Legacy in the Middle East", International Journal of Middle East Studies, 40, 2008, pp. 579–597.

Lecture 2:

Matthieu Rey, "Fighting colonialism" versus "Non-Alignment", two Arab points of view on the Bandung Conference", in Nataša Mišković, Harald Fischer-Tiné (eds.), Nada Boškovska Delhi—Bandung—Belgrade: Non-Alignment between Afro-Asian Solidarity and the Cold War, 2012

Massimiliano Trentin, "Tough negotiations'. The two Germanys in Syria and Iraq, 1963-74", Cold War History, 8, 3, pp. 353 — 380

Lecture 3:

Yezid Sayigh, "Armed Struggle and State Formation", Journal of Palestine Studies, 26, 4, Summer, 1997, pp. 17-32

Lecture 4:

Amin Saikal, "Islamism, the Iranian revolution, and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan", in O.A. Westad, M. Leffler (eds.), Cambridge History of the Cold War, vol. 3, 2010

Lecture 5:

Massimiliano Trentin, "The 1980s ‘debt crisis’ in the Middle East and North Africa: framing regional dynamics within the international stage at UNCTAD", Middle Eastern Studies, vol. 58, 2022

Lecture 6:



Section B. SEMINAR 2

Lecture 1:

Massimiliano Trentin, "Power and Integration. An Historical Overview on Euro- Mediterranean Relations", Marmara University Journal of Political Science, 6, 2018, DOI: 10.14782/ipsus.421020

Lecture 2:

Richard Gillespie and Frédéric Volpi, "Introduction: the growing international relevance of Mediterranean politics" in Richard Gillespie and Frédéric Volpi eds., Routledge Handbook of Mediterranean politics, Routledge, Abingdon, Oxon, 2018

Raffaella Del Sarto, Borderlands, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2021, Introduction, chapter 4, conclusions.

Lecture 3:

Andrea Teti,"Democracy Without Social Justice: Marginalization of Social and Economic Rights in EU Democracy Assistance Policy after the Arab Uprisings", Middle East Critique, 24,1, 2015, pp. 9-25

Daniela Huber, Asma Nouira, Maria Cristina Paciello, "The Mediterranean: A Space of Division, Disparity and Separation", MedReset Policy Papers, 2018

Lecture 4:

MedReset Papers on the Mediterranean and Israel + Turkey + Gulf States + Iran

Lecture 5:

MedReset Paper on the Mediterranean and the USA

Lecture 6:

MedReset Papers on the Mediterranean and Russia and China

Teaching methods

The course is based on a combination of Frontal Lectures, Discussions and Guest Lectures.

1. Paying attention to the un-exceptional complexity of the area, the aim of the frontal lectures is to provide a consistent line of historical interpretation of the patterns of change in the Middle East.

2. Lectures by guests-scholars will integrate with further different perspectives and competences the topics under scrutiny.3. Lectures by guests-scholars will integrate with further different perspectives and competences the topics under scrutiny.

3. Voluntary, Oral Presentations by groups of students on topics related readings. The aim is to stimulate cooperation among students on bibliographical research, both by their own and under supervision of the Professor, as well as to improve their capabilities in public speeches

Assessment methods


 The final result is made out of Two Written Exams, along the "Take Home" modality:

  • Intermediate Exam: One Open question concerning Section A and the main Textbook (50% of grade)
  • Final Exam: Elaboration of an Essay (10 pages at maximum) on the topics of Seminar 1 or 2: details on the topic to be agreed with the Professor (50% of grade)

Those who do not pass the Mid-Term Exam will make the Exam as "Non Attending Students".


The final result is made out of One Written Exam:

  • Two Open Questions: First question pertaining Section A and the main Textbook; Second question pertaining the topics of Section B, Seminar 1 or Seminar 2.


Procedural STEPS:

1. Enroll to Alma Esami.

2. You will receive an invitation by Microsoft Teams to participate to the exam on the related date.

3. On the exam date, the Professor will provide you and explain the Exam: text, questions and rules of delivery. Time for Q&A. You will be able to access the webpage of EOL (Esami On Line).

4. You will submit your Written Essay to the Professor 48 hours later through the online platform EOL (esami-on-line) of Unibo.

5. In order to control the originality of your work, every essay will be checked against any form of plagiarism by the softwares of the University of Bologna. The full bibliography (books and readings) of the course are included.

6. Results will be published within the next 15 days by EOL. You will have 7 days to accept or refuse the result. Afterwards, results will be registered. Only and exclusively, those who refuse their results must write an email to the professor before 7 days.


Teaching tools

The course will make use of ppt and audio-visuals whenever necessary.

Public collections of Primary sources (State and Int. Org. documents):


1.International Organizations

UN and UN Agencies Archives:





World Bank Group:



International Monetary Fund:



2. National and Regional Sources:

European Union





Foreign Policy and History


Senato della Repubblica


Partito socialista italiano


Fondazione Lelio Basso e Sezione internazionale


Fondazione Gramsci - Partito Comunista italiano



Istituto Luigi Sturzo - Archivo Storico e Democrazia Cristiana



United States of America:

Foreign Relations of the United States of America:


National Security Archives of the United States of America


United Kingdom's National Archives:

https://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk [https://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/]

Federal Republic of Germany:



German Democratic Republic:





3. Topics and other Sources:

Sources on the Cold War:


Sources on the Contemporary International History:


Sources and database on Armed Conflicts Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI):


Sources on International and Social History:

International Institute of Social History



Sources on Non Aligned Movement et al. 




Sources on the Middle East and North Africa:





Interactive Encyclopedia of the Palestine Question: https://palquest.org

Office hours

See the website of Massimiliano Trentin