Middle Eastern and North African History

Cedid Atlas, Istanbul, 1803.  Wikicommons.
Cedid Atlas, Istanbul, 1803. Wikicommons.

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Historians in this field study North Africa and Southwest Asia from the advent of Islam (ca. 600 C.E.) to the present. These regions have interacted with societies in Europe, sub-Saharan Africa, East and South Asia since ancient times. The spread of Islam during the seventh century produced a uniquely eclectic civilization that shared common ideological and religious perspectives while embracing a remarkable degree of cultural and linguistic diversity at the local level. Islamic civilizations of the Middle East produced cosmopolitan intellectual and political traditions of sophisticated refinement, while retaining sectarian and tribal identities. Regional resistance to European colonization and nationalism has been pronounced after 1800, and continues to impact the Middle East to the present day. Historians in our department work closely with anthropologists, political scientists and scholars of Religion and Philosophy in Northwestern's Program of Middle East and North African Studies (MENA) as they examine the dynamics of this ongoing process.