Intro to Modern World History

5 Power, Politics & Culture

Shelley Rose


This module focuses on the relationships between space and power, and the development of various cultures within those spaces. The Ottoman and Safavid civilizations, for example, put different emphasis on political spaces under their control. We should also consider geographic space and the influence of European and western narratives on our overall understanding of world history from the 16th-18th centuries. Sebastian Conrad challenges predominantly Western narrative of the Enlightenment and calls for historians to think more critically about how those narratives were received and manipulated by historical actors.

Objectives: After completing Chapter 5, you will be able to

  1. Contextualize major Islamic cultures and empires (Ottoman, Safavid)
  2. Understand the Enlightenment as a global phenomenon.
  3. Describe the relationship between space and political power between 1500-1780
  4. Analyze maps from various global perspectives as primary sources.

Islamic World

  1. Listen to 15- Minute History podcast Episodes 26 “History of the Ottoman Empire Part I” & 27 “History of the Ottoman Empire Part II,” & (OPTIONAL) Ottoman History Podcast, “Mapping the Ottomans”
  2. Read this article “Mercator Misconceptions.”

Enlightenment in World History

  1. Read the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy “Enlightenment” entry & Sebastian Conrad’s article “Enlightenment in Global History: A Historiographical Critique” (this article is available through the CSU library. Use your CSU credentials to log in and use the library resources).
  2. Think about Conrad’s context as a scholar in the field of world history. Use these questions to brainstorm: What is happening in the world when he wrote this article? What do you need to know to evaluate his work further? How does his argument contradict mainstream knowledge about the Enlightenment? On the course discussion board, discuss with your classmates whether or not you agree with Conrad’s arguments.

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