Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Hagia Sophia: Great Review of its History


Here's an excellent review of the Hagia Sophia from Religion for Breakfast.  

Andrew Mark Henry, the host, reviews the history of the Hagia Sophia. 

He explains how it was first built by Justinian and dedicated to holy wisdom and how in 1453, Turkish Muslims conquered Constantinople and eventually turned the Christian church into a mosque with minarets.


Saturday, September 7, 2019

The African Diaspora in the Indian Ocean


The New York Public Library has a terrific online exhibit about Africa in the Indian Ocean from the 7th century through the early modern period.

The exhibit includes short essays, images, video clips,  and maps.

Click on essays, then East Africa, and you can read about the Swahili and the trading networks in which they were involved.

You can also read about the influence of the Arabian Peninsula,  especially Yemen and Oman, on the Swahili coast.

The exhibit covers the other major players in the Western Indian Ocean network including India, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives.

Some of the maps show African migration across the Indian Ocean.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Seven Excellent Essays about Race, Segreation, & Reparations

Here are seven excellent essays about race and democracy.  Ted Genoways, the author of This Blessed Earth, tweeted these stories to show the "widespread reassessment of American History" that he argues is happening now. 

  1. The Great Land Robbery: The shameful story of how 1 million black families have been ripped from their farms Kicked Off the Land: Why so many black families are losing their property, By Lizzie Presser
    Race, History, and Memories of a Virginia Girlhood, Drew Gilpin Faust
  2.   The Fight to Redefine Racism: In “How to Be an Antiracist,” Ibram X. Kendi argues that we should think of “racist” not as a pejorative but as a simple, widely encompassing term of description, By Kelefa Sanneh 
  3. Can Stacey Abrams Save American Democracy? By Alexis Okeowo 
  4. Stacey Abrams’s Fight for a Fair Vote: As the 2020 elections approach, Abrams is leading the battle against voter suppression, By Jelani Cobb 
  5. A Lost Work by Langston Hughes Examines the Harsh Life on the Chain Gang In 1933, the Harlem Renaissance star wrote a powerful essay about race. It has never been published in English—until now 
  6. Segregation Now ...Sixty years after Brown v. Board of Education, the schools in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, show how separate and unequal education is coming back, By Nikole Hannah -Jones
  7. The Case for reparations two hundred fifty years of slavery. Ninety years of Jim Crow. Sixty years of separate but equal. Thirty-five years of racist housing policy. Until we reckon with our compounding moral debts, America will never be whole. By, Ta-Neshisi Coates

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Afro-Asian Perspectives on the Cold War & Decolonization

Medium, the online magazine, has a fascinating section called "Afro-Asian Visions: New Perspectives on Decolonisation, the Cold War, and Asian-African Connections." 

It includes dozens of essays from a non-western perspective, many of which should be ideal for the world history classroom.

In one essay, for example, called "Africans in World War Two Asia: Encounters Across Continents," the author, Oliver Coates, notes that over 46,000 East Africans fought in World War II.  Although the East Africans faced "open racism" which included pay discrimination, dietary regimes, and leave restrictions,  they learned a lot about new cultures like language, religion, and food.

In another essay called "‘China and the Devil Slaves’: challenging Afro-Asian solidarities in Tanzania," author George Roberts, shows how Tanzania fell under the influence of China after decolonization adopting a Mao brand of socialism that "romanticized the peasantry." Roberts notes that the West feared "Red Guards descending upon already troubled Africa," which added fuel the developing Cold War.

Thanks to history teacher,  Jeremy Green, for tweeting the link.


Buddhism along the Silk Road: A Hyperdoc for Students


Here is a Hypedoc (Webquest) about the spread of Buddhism along the Silk Road between the 2nd and 12th centuries.

It's based on a terrific website simply called " A History of the Silk Road.  It has tabs for Buddhism, important people, travelers (including Ibn Battuta and Marco Polo), inventions (such as paper and gunpowder), Pax Mongolica, and even the Belt and Road Initiative.

Another resource for the hyperdoc was the Sackler Museum's digital exhibit of the Sogdians  (who the museum called "Influencers on the Silk Road.")  The Sogdians were central Asian nomads known for their trade and agriculture during their golden age between the 4th and 8th centuries.

The variety of religion was a big feature of Sogdian culture. In an essay called "Believers, Proselytizers, and Translators, the authors review the development of Zoroastrianism, which started in Iran.

My hyperdoc takes students into the Sackler Exhibit and asks them questions about Zoroastrianism and introduces them to the geography of the Silk Road with a terrific google map. In addition, it looks at the development of Buddhism, especially at its height during the Song Dynasty.  Students also read some of Ibn Batuttua's writing about Muslim life in West Africa.

Monday, July 29, 2019

French Revoluton: Senseless Violence?


Teaching the French Revolution?  Was it just ten years of senseless killing?

That's what columnist Peggy Noonan suggested in a recent essay for the Wall Street Jornal.

Two historians, Mike Duncan, a revolutionary history podcaster, and David A. Bell, a history professor at Princeton, took Noonan to task on Twitter for not knowing her history.

Both historians suggest that the revolution, while horrifically violent, made significant contributions to the world.

Here are links to PDF's of Duncan's and Bell's twitter threads about Noonan's essay.

Bell reminds of the development of the Declaration of the Rights of Man, the abolition of slavery throughout the empire, the abolishment of the noble class, and the right to vote for adult men. And Professor Duncan analyzes every sentence in Noonan's essay.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Amazing 3D Model of an 18th-Century Slave Ship

Here is an amazing 3D model of an 18th-century slave ship called the Aurore.

Researchers from Emory University worked with Dr. Nicholas Radburn, the co-editor of the "Voyages: The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database," to develop the 3D model.

The Aurore left La Rochelle in France in August 1784 bound for the African coast to buy slaves to work in sugar and coffee plantations in Santa Domingue.

The 3d model is based on a set of existing slave ship plans.

The result is an amazing 4-minute review of the horrors of a slave ship.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

400th anniversary of 1619 & Start of American Slavery

If you teach world history, keep your eyes out for the August 18th edition of the New York Times Magazine.

According to the twitter thread below, the Times will publish a special digital section about that fateful year and its legacy. You can see below the list of historians who will be contributing. Here's the link on twitter.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Hindu Creation Story

Teaching Hinduism?  Think about beginning the unit with this awesome creation story.

Hinduism has many creation stories. That's because Hindus believe there is no single creation but rather cycles of creation.

 Here, Gillian Anderson narrates our creation story for BBC Radio 4.

Astronomical Advances before Classical Greece

Long before Classical Greeks like Pythagoras, Babylonians in the first millennium BCE were making revolutionary observations about the universe, according to a review of cuneiform tablets by Dr. Moudhy Al-Rashid. ‏

Dr. Al-Rashid notes that between 2000 and 1600BCE, Babylonians "began systematically to record celestial phenomena and their related terrestrial events."

 Some of the tablets, she notes, record "daily astronomical observations in detail, like the position of the moon, occurrences of eclipses, and the location of planets in the sky."

 The takeaway from all this, at least from a world history point of view, is that astronomy and math did not begin with Classical Greece. As Dr. Al-Rashid notes

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Civilization or Religion: Which Came First

Did civilization arise before religion or did religion arise before civilization?

History books teach us that civilization arose with the Neolithic Revolution when hunter-gatherers first settled down because of the discovery of agriculture.  Settled life then led to cities, writing, and religion. The discovery of Göbekli Tepe in southeastern Turkey several years ago may change that story.

Göbekli Tepe contains a series of circles with limestone pillars carved with bas-reliefs of animals like gazelles, foxes, and wild boar. The tallest pillars are 18 feet high and weigh 16 tons.  It looks like a temple "reminiscent of Stonehenge," according to the National Geographic.

But Göbekli Tepe is much older than Stonehenge and over seven thousand years older than the Pyramid at Giza. It was built before the Neolithic Revolution, 11,600 years ago. As the New Yorker Magazine noted, most historians believe that hunter-gatherers did not have the "complex symbolic systems, social hierarchies, and the division of labor, three things you probably need before you can build a twenty-two-acre megalithic temple."

 According to the online magazine, Archaeology, Klaus Schmidt, of the German Archaeological Institute and the chief archaeologist at Göbekli Tepe, believes that the animals on the pillars "probably illustrate stories of hunter-gatherer religion and beliefs, though we don't know at the moment.  The sculptors of Göbekli Tepe may have simply wanted to depict the animals they saw, or perhaps create symbolic representations of the animals to use in rituals to ensure hunting success." 

Does Göbekli Tepe mean that the need for religion or for a scared site led hunter-gatherers to organize themselves into a workforce, settle down for a long period of time, and eventually discover agriculture?

Here's a clip from National Geographic about building Göbekli Tepe and below that a longer documentary from National Geographic about the discovery.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

How Zoroastrianism Shaped the West


Teaching Zoroastrianism?  Here' s a fascinating essay that outlines its influence today!

Which religion influenced the beliefs of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism?

Monotheism started with its founder long before Abraham. The idea of heaven and hell originated with it, as did the idea of good and evil.

Not only did its ideas influence the Abrahamic religions, but they also influenced culture.

Richard Strauss' "Thus Spoke Zarathustra"  can be seen in the score of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Freddy Mercury, the lead singer of Queen, got inspiration from the religion's founder and the Mazda car maker takes its name from the founder.

Zoroastrianism started in Iran and grew with the three great Iranian empires which included that of Cyrus the Great, but began to weaken after the invasion of Alexander the Great and the later development of Islam. Many Zoroastrians fled and migrated to India where they became known as Parsis.

In a terrific essay for BBC Culture, called "The Obscure Religion that Shaped the West," Joobin Bekhrad, examines the influence of Zarathustra's beliefs on western culture.

You can find out more about Zoroastrianism from BBC Religion.

And here is an interesting article about the vanishing population of India's Parsi community.

Why We Must Understand Chinese Philosophy

Wikipedia Commons
Here's an interesting essay that reminds us why we should study Chinese philosophy

Most American know little about Chinese philosophy. They know little beyond the idea that Confucianism is based on five relationships and Daoism has something to do with nature.

In addition, few philosophy departments in the top universities even have a regular faculty member who teaches Chinese philosophy.  Of course, you can find a lot of Greek philosophy.

But, according to Bryan W. Van Norden, Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple Professor at Yale-NUS College, understanding Chinese thought is a matter of urgency.  He outlines three reasons in a terrific essay for The Conversation called, Why the US doesn’t understand Chinese thought – and must.
  1. China's economy could become the largest in the world by 2030. We should understand the philosophical and religious framework of a country with so much influence  because, notes Professor Norden, "traditional philosophy is of continuing relevance in China." 
  2. Chinese philosophy has a lot to offer. For example, Confucian ethics can "provide a deeper understanding of ethical issues regarding the family and can even inform policy recommendations."
  3. Finally, Professor Norden argues that we need more cultural diversity in our philosophy departments. They are too Euro-centric in focus. They should diversify into Asia and consider feminist, indigenous American, Islamic, Latin American and South Asian philosophies.
Just as one might need to understand the Judeo-Christian background of the United States in order to understand some of the political policy, one should understand the Confucian, Taoist, and Buddhist philosophies that inform Chinese policy.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Bartolomé de las Casas -- Short clip about his Importance

Here's a terrific six-minute review of the importance of Bartolomé de las Casas from Ohio State University's  (OSU) Origins.

De Las Casas was a 16th-century Spanish Dominican friar who protested the treatment of slaves in the Carribean. He petitioned the Spanish crown in 1515 in an attempt to stop the abuses. He was among the first to report on the exploitation of indigenous Americans and call for the abolition of slavery.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Four Throughline Podcasts Ideal for World History

Here are FOUR awesome episodes of Throughline that are ideal for World History. The first one compares the life of Simon Bolivar to that of Hugo Chavez, who died in 2012.

The second episode traces the conflict between the Sunni and Shia branches of Islam while the third episode outlines the origins of the split between North and South Korea in light of President Trump's overtures to Kim Jong Un.

The last episode examines the assassination of the popularly elected Iranian leader, Mohammad Mossadegh.

The two hosts do a great job of tying the historical event to current events.
  • El Liberator compares Venezuela's Chavez to Simon Bolivar