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Culture and Regional Studies

Afghan Critical Culture

The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is a hyper-diverse society in terms of languages, religious practices, tribal organizations, and ethnicity.  At the same time, although the state itself has only been around for 250 years the land area occupied by Afghanistan has been settled and resettled since well before the dawn of history.  Then there is the very dynamic present reality of a country grappling with insurgency, anxious neighbors, pressing development needs and forging a unified vision of what it means to be an ‘Afghan’ living in a country called ‘Afghanistan’.  The following courses examine each of these issues in turn, examining Afghanistan through the lenses of culture, history, geopolitics and language so that students will better-prepared to understand the complexities of this fascinating country.

  • Iran Culture Course:  ‘Sources of Iranian Behavior’
  • Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas
  • Afghan Military Culture
  • Afghan Culture 101
  • An Introduction to Arab Culture and Society
  • A History of Modern Saudi Arabia
  • An Introduction to Syria
  • An Overview of the Modern History of Afghanistan
  • Ethnicity in Afghanistan
  • What is Salafism and Why does it Matter?
  • Overview of the Cultures of Pakistan
  • Pakistan’s National Security Strategy
  • Pakistan’s History – and Why it Matters Now
  • Explaining COIN via Case Studies:  Examples from Afghanistan, Egypt, Poland and Morocco

Chinese Critical Culture

Chinese Strategic Culture, Defense and Security Policy: This course emphasizes the role of strategy and warfare in the interactions between China and other states. The first section of the course will be spent considering moments in China's distant past. The formative days of the PRC's security environment will be discussed, as will the emerging security policies of the post-Mao period. Readings will include excerpts from Sun Zi's Art of War and the Romance of Three Kingdoms (both of which heavily influenced the PRC's strategy of guerrilla warfare), as well as secondary literature about China's diplomatic, military and intellectual history. Special attention will be placed on early and evolved PLA military doctrine; PLA Army, Navy, Air Force, and Rocket Forces capabilities; and on PLA military campaign case studies, including the Korean War, the Sino-Indian War, the 1979 Campaign in Vietnam, and the lessons of the 1995-1996 Taiwan Strait Crisis. The course will explore approaches to tactics and strategy in warfare as well as broader concerns about the development and evolution of China's grand strategy. A substantial portion of the course will be spent trying to understand more about China's strategic thought and the relationship between military and nonmilitary means of international interaction.

  • China’s National Security Strategy
  • Intelligence and Security Services of the Near East and South Asia
  • Nation-Building in Central Asia:  Whither the Stans?

Korean Critical Culture

An Introduction to Korean History: Korea is an ancient land with a history that dates back well before recorded history.  This course offers an overview of Korean history, and while it deals briefly with certain features of pre-modern history, the primary focus is on the history of modern Korea (1890s to the present day).  The narrative includes Korea’s nationalist awakening, its subjection by Japan, the post-World War II division of the Korean Peninsula, and South Korea’s dramatic, rapid evolution from one of the poorest countries in Asia to one of the richest.  Students are exposed to the prevailing themes of that history, including the repeated foreign invasions and occupations of the Korean Peninsula, the resilience of Korean culture in the face of those assaults, and the social and cultural tragedy of the current division of Korea.

  • North Korea’s Outlook on the World
  • Intelligence and Security Services of the Near East and South Asia
  • Nation-Building in Central Asia:  Whither the Stans?

Please contact us regarding other courses offered

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