Enlightenment and Genocide: Modern Europe and the Ottoman Empire
Rohan, P. (PI)
(History 183A is 5 units; History 83A is 3 units.) In the early eighteenth century, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, wife of the British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, introduced Ottoman smallpox inoculation to western medicine. But over the next two centuries, Ottoman scientific, cultural, and geopolitical strength disintegrated, while western Europeans colonized much of the globe and industrialized at home. How and why did this happen? This course explores this period of wrenching social change and transformation, and asks how the Enlightenment, with its calls for universal human rights and democracy, existed alongside crimes against humanity such as the Armenian Genocide and the Jewish Holocaust. We inquire into ethical dilemmas from diverse perspectives to better understand the contested heritage of our modern world. Bringing western and non-western philosophy into conversation with history, we study the changing structures of Ottoman and European societies in the context of industrialization, repeated cycles from monarchy to democracy to dictatorship, and the growth of radical strains of Islam as a social protest and revolt against European dominance.
McMurtry Art Building Oshman