Heritage, Politics and Modern State


Institute of Near and Middle Eastern Studies LMU and New University in Exile Consortium
Tuesdays 18:00 – 20:00 (CEST) / 19:00 - 21:00 (UTC+3) / 12.00 - 14.00 (EDT)
14 Weeks (19 October 2021 - 20 February 2022)


The events of the last two decades in the Middle East have not only led to revolutionary outcomes but also to civil wars, to dictatorship exerted by representatives of ethno-religious majorities and to a large-scale refugee’s crisis.

With an interactive methodology and student’s participation in the program, throughout the course and in multidisciplinary perspectives we will pose several essential questions that Middle Eastern societies and political borders face.

With a political and theoretical background, the course will discuss the nature of the modern Middle Eastern states, the history of its twentieth century and the practices that characterized the legal and political life in the region. The theoretical perspective of the course will focus on the relationship between the state and the dictator in modern Arab times, between state and ideology in a one-party-system as well as the observation and discussion of young movements and initiatives in the contemporary Arab world. The main engagement will be with the definition of civil society and its potential role in any social and political cohesion.

The tangible and intangible heritage in the Middle East through archeological and anthropological insights will also be discussed in this course. From antiquity to medieval then to modern times, temples and religions have always occupied physical and mental spaces in the shaping of Middle Eastern identities and communities. An overview of interreligious violence in the region’s history will complete the reflection offered by the course on conflictuality and on future of democratic and political perspectives.


A full outline of the course syllabus can be found here.

Please note that there will be a preparatory meeting that will take place during the usual class hours one week before the class starts. In this meeting, we will introduce you how the platform works and we will offer technical support so that everybody is technically ready for the first session.



Rand Abou Ackl is an archaeologist of the Middle East. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Rome "Sapienza" and a master's degree in Classical and Islamic Archaeology at the University of Damascus. His doctoral research focused on the architecture in the Melkite icons in Syria from the middle of the seventeenth century to the early nineteenth century CE. He has a certificate in Art Crime and Cultural Heritage Protection from ARCA and completed course work in Forensic Archaeology at IFA at the International University for Peace, Rome. Rand is currently a postdoctoral fellow at Columbia Global Center Amman. His present research is about the Representations of the Last Judgment in Syria and Lebanon. Among other projects, he worked in the documentation of icons and relics at Santa Maria in Cosmiden Basilic in Rome, and has published a number of research papers in the field of iconography and post Byzantine in “Chronos”, URBS (VURBS) - Studi sulla romanità antica e tardoantica, and in “Les annales archéologiques arabes syriennes”.

Mohamad Moustafa Alabsi is Ph.D. in Political Philosophy from the University of Grenoble-Alpes, France. In his thesis he focused on the relationship between regime and state in modern Middle East, the notions of “enemy”, “revolution” and “civil war” in political and legal theories as well as in the Arab Spring lessons and realities. He’s currently a post-doctoral fellow at Columbia Global Center Amman. His personal and academic project is about the creation of an Arabic encyclopedia of political philosophy, especially making available for Arabic students a profound knowledge of State theory literature. His research areas are philosophy of law, the forms of regimes and of dictatorship, the totalitarian state and the one-party state. Mohamad’s articles have been published by the Saint-Joseph University Journal: InteraXXIons, “Le Printemps Arabe à l’épreuve du Pouvoir Constituant” (2021) and the multilingual and academic website The Conversation “Quel avenir pour les Etats du Moyen Orient?" (2021).

This Seminar is co-sponsored and funded by the New University in In Exile Consortium based at the New School and is co-sponsored by the Institute of Near and Middle Eastern Studies at Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich.