Landscapes of Faith and Power in the Eastern Mediterranean
Fall 2014, Winter 2015 and Spring 2015 quarters
This program explores the geography of religion, culture and politics in the Eastern Mediterranean region with a special emphasis on the culture and politics of Egypt and Turkey. Drawing upon the fields of political ecology, comparative religion and political science, we will examine how political power and religious beliefs appear on the landscape of the region and how this landscape has been transformed and contested through political and social change. The program will look at how various empires, states and religious traditions have transformed the geography of the region and left a visible trace on the landscape, while also addressing how contemporary struggles for justice or cultural identity are creating new geographies and landscapes. We will learn to read the landscape as an artifact of historical social processes and as emblematic of contemporary identities and power relations. We will explore the major religious traditions in the region, the role of sacred spaces and religious practices in community formation, ecological conditions as the product of political pressures, and the shaping of cultural and political conditions across this region through the rise and fall of past empires and the creation of modern states.
In the fall and winter quarters, students will learn about contemporary political struggles in the region resulting from the Arab and Turkish democratic uprisings, cultural and political geography, environmental conditions, comparative religious study and how to read landscapes with a particular focus on Turkey and Egypt. Students will develop a strong regional understanding of the history of Eastern Mediterranean, including the history and culture of ancient Egypt and Neolithic Anatolia; the rise of Judaism, Christianity and Islam; the transformation of the region through European colonialism and the rise of modern nation-states. We will also examine the politics of inclusion/exclusion and economic inequality in important urban landscapes like Istanbul, Cairo and Jerusalem.
In the spring, some students will have the opportunity to participate in a seven-week study-abroad program that goes to Turkey and Egypt and further explores questions about geography, landscape, faith and power. Students who do not travel will build upon their program work to examine the landscapes of faith and power that link the Middle East with the Pacific Northwest through a study of cultural and religious geography in this region.
Fields of Study
Preparatory for studies or careers in
Location and Schedule
Offered during: Day