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UNIT 17: Ideas Shape the World

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READINGS

Reading 1

Candice Goucher, Charles LeGuin, and Linda Walton, In the Balance: Themes in Global History (Boston: McGraw-Hill, 1998). Selections from chapter 16, "Dual Revolutions: Capitalist Industrialism and the Nation State."

Abstract: This essay explores the evolution and development of the modern nation-state. Beginning with the English Civil War of the seventeenth century and moving to the American, French, Haitian, and Latin American revolutions of the eighteenth and ninteenth centuries, it demonstrates how notions of the state shifted toward a contractual relationship between ruler and ruled. Such a relationship was supposed to guarantee legal equality and personal freedom. At the same time, while most revolutions discussed here drew inspiration from the same Enlightenment ideals, their particular shape depended on the creative adaptation of these ideals to local realities.

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Reading 2

Candice Goucher, Charles LeGuin, and Linda Walton, In the Balance: Themes in Global History (Boston: McGraw-Hill, 1998). Selections from chapter 13, "Traditions and their Transformations."

Abstract: This essay explores the relationship between material conditions and ideas. It also examines the relationship between economic, social, and political changes and transformations in religious, cultural, and intellectual traditions. Using the specific example of the Islamic world in the post-1500 period, it looks at how ideas were transformed in response to changing material circumstances, and how such new ideas reconstructed the world. In particular, it explores the notion of cultural rebirth, or the revival of past tradition as a means of reinterpreting and reconstructing the present.

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Reading 3

John K. Thornton, " 'I am the Subject of the King of Congo': African Political Ideology and the Haitian Revolution," Journal of World History 4, no. 2 (Fall 1993): 181–214.

Abstract: Slaves from the kingdom of Kongo made up a substantial proportion of the inhabitants of Saint-Domingue at the time of its revolution in 1701, and it is not surprising that their leaders occasionally invoked loyalty to the kingdom of Kongo. The civil wars that fed the slave trade from Kongo to the Caribbean included ideological dimensions concerning the proper use of power and authority, which had echoes in the ideology of the revolution. Exploring the African dimension of the revolutionary ideology suggests an alternative to the widely accepted notion of the role played by the ideology of the French Revolution as an inspiration for the rebels of Saint-Domingue.

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