HIST 391
When India was the World: Trade, Travel and History in the Indian Ocean Spring 2019
Division II
Cross-listed GBST 391 / ASST 391 / HIST 391
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What do Ibrahim Ben Yiju, a Jewish merchant from 11th century Yemen, Ibn Batutah, a Muslim scholar from 15th century Morocco and Captain Kidd, a 17th century English pirate have in common? All three men travelled and lived in the Indian Ocean region! This course explores the history of one of the world’s oldest maritime highways that has connected the diverse cultures of Asia, Africa and Europe for millennia, thus making it a vital element in the birth of globalization. Moving away from conventional land-centric histories, we will focus instead on understanding the human past through oceanic interactions. South Asian ports and port cities remained the fulcrum of the Indian Ocean world throughout its history; traders, travellers, nobles, scholars, pilgrims and pirates from all over the world travelled to the Indian coast in search of adventure, spices, knowledge and wealth. Thus we will primarily focus on India’s role in the Indian Ocean roughly from the rise of Islam in the seventh century CE through the expansion of various European communities in the region and the subsequent rise of the global economy and colonialism in the nineteenth century. Rather than following a strict temporal chronology we will concentrate on themes such as travel and adventure; trade and exchange; trust and friendship; religion and society; pilgrimage; piracy; the culture of port cities; and food across time.
The Class: Type: seminar
Limit: 25
Expected: 15-20
Class#: 3297
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: assessment will be based on class participation and weekly responses to readings, 2-3 short papers, an oral presentation and final paper
Extra Info: may not be taken on a pass/fail basis; not available for the fifth course option
Prerequisites: none; open to all
Enrollment Preferences: none
Distributions: Division II
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
GBST 391 Division II ASST 391 Division II HIST 391 Division II
Attributes: GBST South + Southeast Asia Studies Electives
HIST Group B Electives - Asia
HIST Group P Electives - Premodern
MAST Interdepartmental Electives

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