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CS92PROD
You, Me, We, Them: A History of Comparison in a Globalizing World

CHUM 338
Spring 2019 not offered
Certificates: South Asia Studies

Race, nation, religion, and civilization represent some of the most powerful axes of identification by which humans over the past three centuries have known, embraced, incorporated, marginalized, and persecuted others. Yet each of these terms came to indicate very different referents in the shift from the medieval to the modern. Following experiences of European imperialism and non-European resistance, acceptance, and accommodation, postcolonial cultures drew on Western and indigenous traditions to know themselves and their place in a gradually globalizing set of political, economic, and epistemic orders.

In this interdisciplinary seminar, we will critically examine personal and social dynamics of comparison in three broad historical periods. First, using sources from Mughal India, medieval England, and the Ottoman empire, we will consider examples of how premodern communities engaged in acts of comparison to know the natural, human, and superhuman worlds (a distinction based on a necessarily questionable comparison). Second, through materials generated during the European age of discovery and empire, the seminar will explore how "modern" paradigms--informed by Western Christian and European-originated science--reshaped Indian, English, and Turkish worldviews. This occurred not simply because the taxonomical categories changed but because the very nature of comparison and classification shifted to modes that emphasized singularity, individuality, and nonambiguity. Meanwhile, new ideals of human belonging relied on emergent notions of inclusivity and tolerance. Finally, while globalization appears to both erase boundaries through transnational and cross-cultural flows of culture and capital, it has also served the interests of those seeking a deeper reinscription (or imagined reinscription) of differences. Thus, the seminar concludes with a set of theoretical reflections on comparison that are considered in light of specific postcolonial societies and their endeavors to define themselves and the larger world.
Credit: 1 Gen Ed Area Dept: SBS CHUM
Course Format: SeminarGrading Mode: Graded
Level: UGRD Prerequisites: None
Fulfills a Major Requirement for: None

Last Updated on OCT-16-2019
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