Birth of Empire: East India Company

This episode, “East India Company” is from a 2014 BBC documentary series, Birth of Empire. The documentary covers the period the leads to direct British rule over India.

I will distribute hard copies of the Viewing Questions for this documentary in class  I have also uploaded a copy onto Blackboard. We will go over the film with the remaining time in class.

Please hand in your copies of the Viewing Questions either today or at the beginning of class tomorrow.

The Alien Barbarians

We will watch fifteen minute segment of a documentary of Japan in the 19th century.  I will distribute viewing questions in class and will upload copies on Blackboard under Course Documents.

We will have a short in-class writing exercise after the documentary.

Castas Paintings

Here is a link to painting that represent the different castes in colonial Latin America:

I will provide more information about these painting in class.

Latin American Architecture after independence

I noticed today a review in the New York Times on a exhibition called “The Metropolis in Latin America, 1830-1930.” The exhibition is located at the Americas Society on Park Avenue. The subject is architecture and urban planning  six Latin American capitals: Buenos Aires, Havana, Lima, Mexico City, Rio de Janeiro, and Santiago.  The review discussed the mix of Spanish and indigenous influence on Latin American culture.

Here is the review link:

Here is the link to the exhibition:


Tokugawa Japan documentary

Today we will begin watching “The Way of the Samurai” an episode from the PBS documentary series, Japan: Memories of a Secret Empire (2003). You will need to watch the remaining portion at home. We left off in class at 28:48.

I provide you in class with Viewing Questions for the documentary.  I have also uploaded a copy to Blackboard in Course Documents.  These questions are for you to take notes.  They are not to be turned in.

On Wednesday, March 28, there will be an open note quiz on based on the film.

The Rise and Fall of the Mughal Empire

We will  watch an episode of a documentary series on the history of India that covers the rise and fall of the Mughal Empire.

We will discuss the rise and fall of the Mughals as well as how British rule expanded so quickly in the 19th century  on Wednesday. I will distribute viewing question in class.  I will also upload a copy to Blackboard.

On Wednesday, there will be a map quiz on the Mughal Empire. You will be asked to identify the following places: Ganges River, Indus River, Delhi, Agra, Bombay, Bengal, Samarkand.


Attack on Sufi shrines

Balancing the conflict between religious tolerance v. conformity to religious orthodoxy has been a continuing controversy around the world. As you study the role of Sufism during the reign of the Mughals from Babur through Akbar to Aurangzeb please keep in mind that current religious conflicts have historical roots that go back to the Mughal era

Unfortunately in the last year, there have been two recent violent episodes that have targeted Sufi Muslims. Here are news items covering attacks on Sufi shrines in Pakistan and Egypt.

The next news item covers an attack in Pakistan in October.

Here’s another from Pakistan in February.

The Slave Trade

I’ll be showing an excerpt from an episode of a PBS series, “Africans in America.”  I’ve included here the entire episode for those who are interested in seeing the beginning and end of the documentary.

The clips I’ve chosen will  focus primarily on the Slave Trade and the experience of the Middle Passages–that section begins at about 28:00 and ends 51:00.  However, I would also recommend the section after regarding slave culture in North America and some early rebellions against the slave system in South Carolina.

Portugal’s role in African slave trade

I came across an article about plans in Lisbon to build a memorial to the Africans who were brought to America aboard Portuguese ships. The plans have provoked some controversy as Portugal attempts to deal with its role in the Atlantic slave trade.  The issue of responsibility for slavery and other injustices of the pasts are not unique to Portugal.  If you are interested, in the history of the African slave trade or the issue of historical memory here is a link to the article.


The Rise of the Ottoman Empire

I’ve posted here an episode from a PBS documentary, Islam: Empire of Faith (2000).  This episode is about the rise of the Ottoman Empire.  We will watch the beginning in class. You are encouraged to watch the rest on your own.

Consider the following questions?

  • Who were the Ottoman’s rivals? How did they rule their conquered lands?
  • What was “devsirme?” Why were they important to the Ottomans?
  • What was the Janissary?
  • Why was the conquest of Constantinople so important to the Ottomans?