Middle Eastern and African Studies

Invitation to Middle Eastern and African Studies

The Japanese have a tendency to view the Middle East and Africa as remote regions with little cultural connection to Japan. In the Faculty of Foreign Studies, with a close linkage with the Faculty of Global Studies, we want to change that mode of thinking and foster a deeper intellectual interest in these areas. The fact is that the Middle East and Africa already have close economic ties with Japan, and in our era of globalization, the growing influence of Islam, a major regional and world religion, can be seen in many aspects of our lives. Both regions also play an increasingly important role in the global community as they build deeper relations not only with Japan but also with such global powers as the United States, the European Union, and China. Then, of course, there is the region’s rich cultural appeal. In the Middle Eastern and African Studies concentration, students get to know the area’s history, culture, society, and religion in intimate detail through area studies grounded in close ties with the local communities, while also learning the methodology of area studies.

Whether teaching lecture courses or leading seminars, our faculty members draw on a wealth of field experience in various Middle Eastern and African countries. A wide range of course offerings, from introductions to seminars, provide students with the guidance and tools to systematically deepen their study of the issues that interest them the most. The concentration also offers language classes in Arabic, which is used through much of the Middle East and North Africa, as well as Turkish and Persian, which plays a central role in the cultures of Western Asia, giving students an opportunity to study these tongues in addition to their major (first foreign) language. Each of our faculty members leads seminars in which students pursue their studies more deeply and complete seminar papers, seminar projects, and graduation theses on the research topics of their choice.

Academic Aims of the Middle Eastern and African Studies Concentration

1. To help students acquire the basic and applied knowledge they need to deepen their understanding of the history, societies, cultures, religions, and languages of the Middle East (including Iran and other countries of Western Asia) and Africa and provide training in scholarly methodology while promoting the study of such regional languages as Arabic and Persian.

2. To enable students to pose their own scholarly questions and provide the guidance they need to conduct independent research based on those questions.

3. To support and assist students in traveling to the Middle East or African countries that interest them, in order to engage in language study, research, or academic exchange for a set period of time, in keeping with the concentration’s emphasis on first-hand experience.

4. To help students develop a deeper global perspective through Middle Eastern and African studies and enable them to contribute to future relations between Japan and these regions in a professional or intellectual capacity.

Curriculum of the Middle Eastern and African Studies Concentration

Introductory Courses

Concentration introductory courses, such as those listed below, establish a foundation for more specialized work in Middle Eastern and African studies. Students who select the Middle Eastern and African Studies concentration begin by taking these courses in order to develop their basic knowledge and skills.

Selected Course Offerings :

Globalization and Religion
Anthropology of Globalization
Introduction to Fieldwork 
Peace Studies
Religion and Civilization
Introduction to Middle East Studies
Introduction to African Studies

Core Courses

The concentration’s core courses offer an opportunity for more advanced and specialized learning that builds on the basic knowledge and methodology acquired in our introductory courses. Students are urged to choose freely from these course offerings, guided by their own intellectual curiosity and interests.

Selected Course Offerings :

Comparative Politics
Development Economics
Globalization and the Developing World
History of Islam in the Middle East (pre-modern)
Political History of the Middle East
The Eastern Muslim World
Contemporary Shiite Society
Popular Islam
Islam and Gender
Islamic Thought in the Middle East
Arts of the Middle East
Turkish Studies
African History
International Cooperation in Africa
History of the Francophone World
History of Portuguese Africa
Afro-Brazilian Culture
Special Topics in Contemporary African Studies
Special Topics in Islamic Area Studies
Special Topics in African Society and Culture

Seminar Courses

In seminar courses, open to third- and fourth-year students, learning is a student-directed process. Instead of passively receiving knowledge from the instructor, students choose research topics based on questions and concerns of their own, gather and read the relevant literature on the topic, conduct field research, analyze and interpret the data, and finally write up their research in the form of a graduation thesis. Seminars are an opportunity for students to sum up their college experience in a final research project that brings their concentration studies to fruition.

Selected Course Offerings :

Seminar in Middle East and African Studies A
Seminar in Middle East and African Studies B
Seminar in Middle East and African Studies C
Seminar in Middle East and African Studies D
Seminar in Middle East and African Studies E
Seminar in History of Francophone Area
Seminar in Lusophone Area Studies
Seminar in Afro-Brazilian Studies
Seminar in North African Social Economics