Friday’s Class Post-Game

It seems like it might be a good idea to follow up some classes with my own reflections. First of all, it is an admittedly awkward situation to share your knowledge in the environment of a diverse class, so I hope no one felt uncomfortable with today’s exercise. I don’t have any expectations about anyone’s background knowledge; I only have an intention to build your confidence to know and discuss the contemporary Middle East.

So, I thought I would share some resources to help you all build your knowledge where you feel you’ll need it. Here, for example, is the Google search results for ethnolinguistic maps of the Middle East. It may take a while to process all of that, but what you’ll find is that the major languages spoken in the region are Arabic, Turkish, Farsi, Kurdish, Berber and Hebrew, more or less in descending order of prevalence. If you’re curious about the Sunni-Shi’a divide, for example, you could read this primer on it. If you want to know more about the Christian communities of the Middle East, most of whom are Arabic-speakers, you could study this overview from the BBC.

In any case, don’t panic! We’ll move out of the background material and into the contemporary events very quickly, and I’m happy to help explain things as we go.

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