Course registration open: Love, marriage and dating in the Arab world. Anthropological perspectives on contemporary practices

Picture of a henna party
Kuva / Adil Celebiyev StokPhoto / Shutterstock

2.11.2022 – 12.12.2022

Weekly course sessions are on Wednesdays at 12:00-14:00 and Fridays at 12:00-14:00 (Helsinki time, UTC +2)

Registration period for the course is open until 20.9.2021 at 18:00
Course language: English
Format: Zoom-sessions, required readings, written assignments
Credits: 5 ECTS (subject to home institution recognition)
Organizer: Finnish Institute in the Middle East (FIME) in co-operation with the University of Helsinki

Course description:

The course focuses on questions of love, marriage and dating in contemporary Arab societies. We explore what kind of insights ethnographic method in particular can offer for understanding intimate relationships in the MENA region. The course draws an overview of courtship practices and marital life throughout the region, and increases understanding of how they are shaped by different societal and material conditions. A central part of the course program are lectures given by various anthropologists who have studied the topic from different perspectives. The focus in these lectures is in their empirical findings, providing windows to the everyday life in the contexts they have studied. In addition, the course offers analytical tools to assess different frameworks to address intimate relationships in the MENA region, and to evaluate the benefits and challenges of the ethnographic method in the research of intimate topics. 

Target group:

The course is designed for master’s and doctoral level students in the fields of Islamic and Middle Eastern studies, anthropology, gender studies, and other social sciences. Applications are welcomed from students from Finnish universities and Finnish students studying abroad. The course is free of charge.

Learning objectives:

By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  • Grasp the variety of courtship and marriage practices in different Arab societies 
  • Understand how gender relations in the MENA region are shaped by societal, political, economic, and other structural factors 
  • Understand the strengths and challenges of ethnographic method in addressing intimate topics 
  • Assess different theoretical frameworks to address intimate relationships in the MENA regio

Instructor: Sandra Nasser El-Dine, researcher at the Finnish institute in the Middle East

Working methods: 

The course consists of twelve weekly sessions delivered online in Zoom. The sessions include a lecture by a guest lecturer or course instructor, and group discussions. In addition, students are expected to have read the assigned reading for each session ahead of time. Completing a final essay and other written assignments is required to pass the course.

Equivalency with courses at the University of Helsinki:

ALKU-LIJ314 Lähi-idän yhteiskuntien erityiskysymyksiä (5 ECTS)

For equivalencies with other universities, please consult your own university institution.


The registration for the course is open until 20.9.2021 at 18:00. The selected participants will be informed by 26.9.2021. The maximum amount of participants for the course is 20 students.

Fill out the registration form here