Europe and the Arab World
Course infoSchedule
Course moduleFTR-FIPPSB304
Credits (ECTS)5
Language of instructionEnglish
Offered byRadboud University; Faculty of Philosophy, Theology and Religious Studies; Opleiding Filosofie;
dr. H.J. Viersen
Other course modules lecturer
dr. H.J. Viersen
Other course modules lecturer
Contactperson for the course
dr. H.J. Viersen
Other course modules lecturer
Academic year2022
SEM1  (05/09/2022 to 29/01/2023)
Starting block
Course mode
Registration using OSIRISYes
Course open to students from other facultiesYes
Waiting listNo
Placement procedure-
In this course you will:
  • learn about modernization in the Arab world and the Middle East;
  • learn how the modernization of the Arab world continues to influence today’s societies;
  • examine the concept of modernity and how it relates to the European imperial project, as well as to European history and identity;
  • think critically about the relationship between Europe and the Arab world in light of modern history
As a close neighbor of Europe, the Arab world has long held a special place in the European imagination. Intimately associated with Islam, Christendom’s great rival, it has also exercised an irresistible attraction on Romantic spirits who pictured the ‘Orient’ as the mysterious realm of Arabian Nights. While interaction between these regions has never been absent, recent centuries have witnessed an increase in dealings between Europe and the Arab world, starting with the European imperialist project of the 19th century and continuing through the era of decolonization and the Cold War, to the current age of Arab revolutions and mass migration.

In this course we will explore the current state of this relationship by looking primarily at the modern history of the Arab world. Focusing mostly on Egypt, we will look at how Arab societies coped with the challenge of ‘modernity’ commonly associated with the colonial era and we will see how the institutions, ideas, and sensibilities that were forged in the cauldron of modernization continue to shape the region. From this case study we will draw broader lessons. On the one hand it can teach us about how the imperial project functioned and how decolonization partly unraveled and sustained parts of the colonial infrastructure. On the other hand, a deeper understanding of modernization in the Arab world may offer a prism through which we can see more clearly the peculiarities of Europe’s own version of modernity and the degree to which its path through the previous centuries has been marked by its encounter with the rest of the world.


Presumed foreknowledge
No previous knowledge of the subject is required.
Test information

The course will be graded on the basis of a take-home exam for which students will be given one full week in January of 2022.

Students are expected to answer weekly reading questions.


This course is part of a module of three courses in the Philosophy, Politics and Society bachelor programme. You can only take this course if you also take the two associated courses during the same semester. 

If you want to register for the three courses in this module, you must FIRST register for the module itself. You can do this via the 'Minor' tab in Osiris. For an overview of modules and their associated courses, see the course guides on the website of the Faculty of Philosophy, Theology and Religious Studies.

Enrolment of non-PPS students and non-FFTR students can be rejected if a module becomes overcrowded. In such cases, PPS students and FFTR students have priority (in that order).

Instructional modes
Lecture and seminar

Take Home Exam
Test weight1
Test typeTake home test
OpportunitiesBlock SEM1, Block SEM2