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Level 5

5AAH1010 World History: Power & Inequality (1500-1900)

Credit value:15
Module convenor/tutor: Professor Francisco Bethencourt
Teaching pattern: 10 x 2-hour seminars (weekly)
Availability: Please see module list for relevant year
Assessment: 1 x 1,500-word formative essay;  1 x 3,000-word essay (100%)

Students are reassessed in the failed elements of assessment and by the same methods as the first attempt.

The modules offered in each academic year are subject to change in line with staff availability and student demand: there is no guarantee every module will run. Module descriptions and information may vary between years

The purpose of this course is to introduce the students to World History through the comparative analysis of economic creations of inequality, foundations of power and the way legal frameworks and forms of government interfered with social hierarchies. The main areas of observation will be Europe, China, India and Japan, the Iranian and the Ottoman empires, West Africa, Central Africa, Ethiopia, the pre-Colombian, colonial and postcolonial societies in America. The access to property and the rights of succession will be the key to understand different regimes and different social frameworks. Then we will analyse specific political, economic and social functions, occupations or conditions, which will allow us to understand production, reproduction and changes of hierarchies. The role of symbolic systems in the process of perceiving and producing inequality will also be part of the programme. The goal is to establish a comparative perception of world history that will allow the students to consider future specialisation in that field.

Suggested introductory reading

This is suggested reading and purchase of these books is not mandatory.

Louis Dumond, Homo Hierarchicus. The Caste System and Its Implications (Chicago, 1981)

R. S. Khare (ed.), Caste, Hierarchy and Individualism. Indian Critiques of Louis Dumont’s Contributions (New Delhi, 2006)

Georges Duby, The Three Orders: Feudal Society Imagined (Chicago, 1980), pp. 1-12 and 354-8)

The Cambridge History of China, vol. 9 The Ch’ing Empire to 1800 (Cambridge, 2002)

Marius B. Jansen, The Making of Modern Japan (Cambridge, Mass., 2000) 

Francisco Bethencourt, Racisms: From the Crusades to the Twentieth Century (Princeton, 2013)

Frank Dikötter (ed.), The Construction of Racial Identities in China and Japan (London, 1997)

Merry E. Wiesner, Women and Gender in Early Modern Europe (Cambridge, 2000)

Suraya Faroqhi (ed.), The Cambridge History of Turkey, vol. 3 The Later Ottoman Empire, 1603-1839 (Cambridge, 2006)

The Cambridge History of Russia, vol. 2,  Imperial Russia, 1689-1917 (Cambridge, 2006)

Evelyn S. Rawski, The Late Emperors. A Social History of Qing Imperial Institutions (Berkeley, 1998)

Toby Green, The Rise of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade in Western Africa, 1300-1589 (Cambridge, 2011)

John L. Esposito (ed.), Oxford History of Islam (Oxford, 1999)

Christopher Bayly, The Birth of the Modern World, 1780-1914 (Oxford, 2004)

The Cambridge History of Christianity, vol. 7, Enlightenment, Reawakening and Revolution (Cambridge, 2006)

Philip D. Curtin, Cross-Cultural Trade in World History (Cambridge, 1984)

Paul E. Lovejoy, Transformations in Slavery. A History of Slavery in Africa (Cambridge, 2011)

Daniel Chirot and Anthony Reid (eds.), Essential Outsiders. Chinese and Jews in the Modern Transformation of Southeast Asia and Central Europe (Seattle, 1997)

Sebouh David Aslanian, From the Indian Ocean to the Mediterranean: the Global Trade Networks of Armenian Merchants from New Julfa (Berkeley, 2011)

Richard Sennett, The Craftsman (London, 2008)

Vipul Singh, The Artisans in 18th Century Eastern India (New Delhi, 2005)

Anthony Reid (ed.), Slavery, Bondage and Dependency in Southeast Asia (New York, 1983)

Indrani Chatterjee and Richard M. Eaton (eds.), Slavery and South Asian History (Bloomington, 2006)

Paul E. Lovejoy, Transformations in Slavery. A History of Slavery in Africa (Cambridge, 1983)

Herbert S. Klein and Francisco Vidal Luna, Slavery in Brazil (Cambridge, 2010)

Gwyn Campbell, Suzanne Miers and Joseph C. Miller (eds.), Women and Slavery (Athens, Ohio, 2007)

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