Share this page

The Middle East in the 20th Century: local actors and great power politics

Language of Instruction: English
About the theme: This module looks at the way the great powers of Europe (and later the USA) have interacted with the nation states of the Middle East in the Twentieth Century. The goal of this module is to achieve an understanding of the dynamics of the interaction between nation-states and external powers. 

Our story starts with the break-up of the Ottoman Empire after it had become involved in World War I as a partner of one European power, Germany. It will then look at the period when large parts of the Middle East were run by France and Britain as “mandates” and the position of the Middle East in World War II. 

The Middle East will not just be presented as a playground for the great powers. The way communities and states in the area manipulated the powers to attain their ends will be equally important. The relationships can be envisaged as quadrilinear: between the great powers, between each of the great powers and their respective local clients and between the states of the region. All sides of this quadrangle will receive attention.

Lecturer: Prof. Dr. E.J. Zürcher is a Dutch Turkologist and professor of Turkish studies at Leiden University since 1997. His main research interest is the political and social history of the late Ottoman Empire and the early Turkish Republic. His book A modern history (first published in 1993) is widely used as textbook in universities in the U.S.A., the U.K, the Netherlands and Turkey. It has been translated into Dutch, Turkish, Italian, Greek, Arabic, Indonesian and Hebrew.


The most frequently asked questions about Humanities Lab, and their answers.


Interested? Join the Humanities Lab.


Visit an information session.

Contact us

Please contact us for the questions you might have about Humanities Lab. We will answer them.