Asian/African/Middle Eastern History

History Majors: If this is one of your four areas of study, complete one course from the selection below. See Undergraduate Degree Requirements for more details.

This course is an introduction to the history of an enormous continent, Africa. Because of the size of the geography, population and time covered, one of the main purposes of this course is to pave the way to the upper division regional and thematic classes. We will move our way through African history both temporally and thematically. Lectures will introduce key themes and ideas and in section you will discuss historical evidence for African communities, cultures and ideas. This course is suitable to those who know nothing of Africa, and to those who are considering taking an upper division lecture classes or seminar in African history or Africana Studies.
This course explores the formation of modern East Asian nations and of the idea of East Asia itself in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It examines the interrelated histories of China, Japan, and Korea and the forces that forged modernity in East Asia: wars, colonialism, imperialism, Cold War geopolitics, nationalism and socialism. The course presents an overview of large historical processes, but introduces different perspectives by looking at how individuals narrated their experiences in memoirs, diaries, short stories, novels, and films.
This course examines the history of the African slave trade. The trans-Atlantic slave trade was the world's largest forced migration between continents, but it was only one of many slave trades that shaped societies throughout the world. In order to understand the historical significance of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, we will compare it to other slaveries. In examining the historical significance and legacies of the slave trade, we will link the histories of Africa to that of the New World and to Europe. There continue to be heated debates about the volume and impact of the slave trade on African and New World societies. We will explore these debates. The course will also examine the changing meaning of the term "slavery" and examine some modern forms of slavery that persist to this day.
Rise of Islam, creation of Islamic society, relationship of religion and politics.
Evolution and global spread of Muslim societies, modernization and its problems.
This course looks at history of post-1949 China from two different perspectives. Students will read "proper" historical texts: political and intellectual essays, government documents, social reports, and scholarly historical monographs. These will be juxtaposed to different forms of narrative construction: movies, novels, and autobiographical accounts. With this integrated approach, the course examines the history of the People's Republic of China but also the continuous interplay between historiography and politics, history and memory, popular culture and learning.
The People's Republic of China has emerged as the second largest economy in the world and a major player on the global stage, and that has quickly turned it into an object of both admiration and fear, appreciation and vilification. How we view China depends in part on our political leanings, what kind of media we consume, but, most importantly, on what we actually know about the country, its people, and its history. This course explores some of the most important issues concerning today's China and its relationship with the rest of the world, by viewing them in a longer historical perspective and focusing on the complex legacy of the last two hundred years. While we will adopt a historian's approach, we will read and use works by sociologists, anthropologists, and political scientists. And while the focus of the course is China, the methodology we deploy here can and should be applied to other cases.
Examines the changing relationship between Islam and politics from the time of the Prophet to the present day.
Africa is an enormous continent. The course explores different themes and issues in African history both temporally and thematically. Lectures will introduce key themes and ideas and in-class discussions will expand on historical evidence for African communities, cultures and ideas. This course is suitable for anyone interested in Africa, particularly those who have taken HIS208: History of Africa.
By reading and discussing many different ancient texts, including philosophy, Jewish histories and literature, and, especially, papyri from Egypt, you will explore the social and cultural history of the eastern Mediterranean from Alexander the Great until the Roman conquest.
This course focuses on Cleopatra VII (69-30 BCE), the last ruler of Ptolemaic Egypt and one of the best-known women in history and a key powerbroker during a period of important political change, one with enduring repercussions for the western world. She has been, however, deliberately memorialized as a "romantic" agent, a deployer of "feminine wiles", whose gender and political toolbox rightly doomed her efforts to failure. Students will interrogate the process of transforming a historical individual into an object lesson, a trope of femininity, and a cinematic legend, unpacking the messages crafted for a range of audiences and purposes by multiple creators, including Cleopatra herself. We begin with the historical background of the Hellenistic period, cosmopolitan and multicultural, focusing especially on the dynamism of women in the ideology of royal power and as image-makers in their own right, developing special forms for female authority and female patronage. A number of earlier Cleopatras establish context and particular precedents, creating official personae to engage effective interactions with fundamental groups; these include the resilient Ptolemaic queen Cleopatra II (r. 175-116 BCE) and Cleopatra Thea, token in a dynastic alliance who became Great Queen of Syria, dominating the Seleucid throne for a generation. Students will then sift through the evidence for Cleopatra VII, both the contentious (and largely hostile) material for her Mediterranean activities as well as the Egyptian record that may represent the specific efforts of the queen herself, utilizing then-ancient symbol and ritual to assert her legitimate imperial authority and structure her collaboration with major stakeholders in the Nile realm. The last section of the course looks to the lingering memory of Cleopatra long after her death, closely examining images in drama, art, and film to explore how the story of Cleopatra has been crafted and recrafted to represent different "truths" about sex, power, and identity.
How have humans interacted with the varied environments of the Middle East: deserts, oceans, mountain slopes, river valleys, grasslands, farmlands, cities, ports? How can we study those interactions, with what sources and methods? How have they been affected by changes in climate or technology? What is the impact of the many conquests and colonialisms that have swept over the region up to the present day? How do Middle Easterners view their own environment, how do they understand nature? What are they doing now to preserve their environments from destruction?
Examination of the roles women have played throughout Islamic history and of the changing discourse in the Islamic community about women and their roles.
This course explores the mutual impact of culture and nature - how the natural environment has shaped culture, and how humans have impacted the natural environment (and to take this full circle, how human-induced changes in the natural environment subsequently impact societies). The relatively rapid and thoroughgoing transformations in East Asia over the past century allow us an ideal setting to explore the interaction between culture and nature. Focusing largely on China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam, this course explores how the relatively new field of environmental history opens new dimensions of historical inquiry.
Survey of Indian history from 7th century to 1750.
Survey of political, social and economic developments in South Asia from the mid-18th century to the present. Writing emphasis for India-Pakistan specialization.
Survey of political, social, economic and cultural transformations undergone by China from ca. 1800 to the present. Provides students with a sense of both the major themes and the substance of the last two centuries of history of one of the world's major civilizations, as well as a better understanding of China's prominent position in the world today.
This course asks how the city was understood and urban space was experienced in China from the late imperial period to the twentieth century, from the walled cities of Ming and Qing to the neoliberal remaking of Beijing and Shanghai, passing through the modernist experiments of the Communist and Republican periods. Examining some of the key social, cultural and political factors that shaped urban life, we will address such questions as: how did changes in media shape conceptions of urban space and one's place within it, what did the Chinese urban landscape look like, what were some of its key features, and how did political changes at the national level affect life and governance in the city? Our investigations will also lead us into the realm of cultural and intellectual history. We will look at how such notions as cosmopolitanism, nation-mindedness, and scientific rationality developed in and around the city. In more general term, we will use the case of China to investigate how a history of "modern urban life" and urban space can be written, and what its significance might be. This course maintains a focus on the distinctive character of various Chinese cities while attempting to elucidate deeper commonalities and similarities that shape urban experience in China and elsewhere. Comparisons with other national experiences as well as theoretical reflections on issues of urbanism and urban life will then be integral part of the course.
History of Ottoman Empire from its origins through the direct Western European impact, focusing on the political and social history of the empire in Europe and Asia.
This course focuses on the ancient history of the Middle East prior to the rise of Christianity and Islam. In reflecting on modern agendas and assumptions that have defined a certain image of "the classical world" in distinction to that of "the ancient Near East", we take a critical approach to Mesopotamian, Anatolian, Levantine, and Persian history from the development of writing to the conquest of Alexander the Great (fourth millennium to fourth century BCE).