A course on world history is unquestionably a challenge, for teachers and students alike



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Chapter 25



World War I and the End of an Era
This very brief chapter highlights several historical shifts at the end of the "long nineteenth century" that suggested how a time period was drawing to a close and how emerging new elements indicated the beginning of a different framework. Rather than a full exploration, the chapter is designed as a part closer to stimulate thinking about changes around 1900. The key event here, of course, is World War I, and the chapter sums up causes of the war, citing both proximate, diplomatic context and more deep-seated factors relating to industrialization and imperialism. Instructors may wish to expand on many of these points. Other significant events, like the Mexican and Chinese revolutions, are taken up more fully in subsequent chapters.
The key analytical issues raised by the chapter are twofold, and open to more ample discussion and factual background: First, was European war inevitable, the product of structural weaknesses that had to burst open, or did war result from a series of human miscalculations that could have been handled differently? And, second, was there a larger set of sea changes brewing in world history around 1900 linking such disparate developments as Chinese and Mexican revolutions and the world war, suggesting again that the world history framework that had described the long nineteenth century was reaching the end of its sustainability? Or does the "end of the period" idea suggest too much coherence to scattered developments?

Part VI
A word, first, on the part opener and the twentieth-century chapters in general. Relative to its treatment of earlier periods, this text offers extensive coverage of the twentieth century. It does so on grounds that the twentieth century opens a new period in world history, the dimensions of which must be explored both in general and in terms of each of the major civilizations, and because students need to be able to connect themes in the past with their own present. Hence, the twentieth-century coverage is not only reasonably extensive, but also follows the lines of the civilizations already defined, for a final test of change and continuity. And it emphasizes evolving characteristics — the nature of politics, for example, and family life in the Middle East — and is not just an overview of the main events or of new categories such as "Third World" or North-South.
The part opener discusses the twentieth century in terms similar to those used in earlier sections that introduced major world history periods, briefly identifying past dominant themes that have now receded, like the "rise of the West," and new themes that began to intervene. The section can thus be compared to earlier periodization discussions. It is useful to remind students that world history periods usually take time to coalesce — hence change is clearer than definite, specific directions. We know that most societies saw political structures shift in the twentieth century, often more than once; we don't yet know if there will be a characteristic international political form. Redefinitions in the world economy and in international contacts, nevertheless, clearly play a role in setting up a new framework, as do decolonization and the greater complexity of world power alignments.
Each chapter from 26 through 33 continues the exploration of what the main trends are, how they relate to earlier experiences and patterns in the given civilization (that is, change versus continuity), and how they compare to other contemporary civilizations. The place to start — an undeniably complex place because of the many oscillations of twentieth-century history — is the West itself.
With regard to chapter 26, on the West, and all the chapters dealing with twentieth-century civilizations, a key analytical discussion may focus on tracing continuities that can help explain distinctive current patterns; students may be asked to locate the sources of causation not only in recent twentieth-century events, but also in the classical-postclassical or early modern-nineteenth century periods. In explaining, for example, why India proved more democratic than China, reference can be made to relevant classical traditions (India's looser structure) and the impact of Britain as opposed to China's 19th-century disarray, and the inevitably authoritarian results of revolution (China) versus more gradual transition.

Chapter 26



The West in the Twentieth Century
Chapter 26 deals with the West in the twentieth century. In terms of events, it runs through World War I, the 1920s, the Great Depression, the rise of Fascism, World War II, and major developments in the postwar decades, including NATO and the Cold War, the European Union, and the spread of democratic constitutions. Thematically, the chapter discusses the main lines of political change, with due note of fascism but with particular emphasis, postwar, on a fairly agreed-upon multiparty system and the extension of welfare functions. Major developments in science and social science, and the often contrasting world of the arts, are also sketched. Continued economic change is stressed, particularly after World War II, with reference to new organizational forms, products and technologies, and work arrangements. Parallel changes in social structure, including the rise of new immigration and the services sector, are explored, along with major features of demography, family life, and consumer behavior in an affluent society. The chapter's conclusion raises the prospect of a quantum shift in Western history, defined by the postindustrial concept. (This point is explored more fully in chapter 33.)
The chapter basically offers a narrative approach to the world wars and the interwar period, and a more trend-oriented approach to developments in the past forty years (with, of course, overlap between the two sections). An explicit theme here is a significant internal periodization in Western history between 1914-45 on the one hand and its similarities and differences from contemporary world history on the other. Further exploration of this theme might be picked up in lectures and discussion, to aid students in sorting through a considerable amount of detail to pick out the main themes and identifying features of contemporary Western society. Many instructors will wish, of course, to add detail about the war episodes, fascism, the general interwar trauma, or the postwar West. But there is every reason, as well, to guide students to a focus on change and continuity in the West, so that larger themes are not lost in detail or the sheer immediacy and prominence of this period in Western history. A quiet summary of what the main features of the West have been in the twentieth century, how they compare with features earlier identified—and ultimately with the features of other twentieth-century civilizations—is no easy task. As a framework for a class discussion, students might simply chart, in the political, cultural, economic, and social categories, the ways that Western society maintains, in the late 1990s, trends discernable in 1900, and the ways in which it has profoundly departed from 1900 trends.
The History Debate section, on convergence, raises issues of the coherence of "Western civilization," including the U.S., continuing in the twentieth-century context an earlier discussion about American exceptionalism.
Some instructors, in advance of the discussion of the West, may wish also to take up the larger issues of twentieth-century periodization in world history covered in the part opener. It is here, rather than in chapter 26 itself, that the changes in the West's position in the world are addressed. Certainly at some point the problem of modern world history periodization must be tackled. Unless confusing, the issue might be raised now but saved for fuller discussion until more coverage is assimilated, in conjunction, for example, with the final chapter of the text.

Chapter 27
Eastern European Civilization
This chapter covers the Russian revolution and the development of Soviet institutions, culture, and society. It places heavy emphasis on the nature and completion of Russian industrialization and the Soviet emergence as a superpower. The uneasy extension of the Soviet system to the rest of Eastern Europe following World War II is also discussed. Finally, the practical dismantling of the system, from Gorbachev onward, receives considerable attention.
Instructors may wish to use a lecture or two to expand on some of the episodes or characteristics covered in the chapter—the contrast between Lenin and Stalin, the nature of de-Stalinization, the strengths and weaknesses of Soviet culture, the nature of the regimes in the smaller East European countries, the distinctive economic system. In terms of Russia and some of the smaller states, it may be important to an American student audience to highlight achievements and reasons for relative satisfaction in these societies, at least into the 1970s though without obscuring their coercive factor.
Four somewhat more thematic subjects beckon as well. It can certainly be useful to discuss the nature of revolution, with the 1917 uprising and its effective extension into the early 1930s as a case study. Comparison with France in 1789 can be illuminating, and it is also possible to introduce some generalizations about the nature of twentieth-century revolution. The Understanding Culture section urges exploration of revolution's cultural impact. Second, Russia's twentieth-century patterns can be compared with those of the West, to highlight features that seem inherent in modernization, elements that remind us of the partially shared heritage of the two civilizations, and factors that reflect new or old differentiations. A useful speculative exercise, which might be supplemented with some texts, involves inviting students to put themselves in the shoes of a Soviet official or an ordinary citizen commenting from a twentieth-century Russian perspective on the weaknesses of Western society. Third, the Soviet experience should certainly be compared with earlier patterns in Russian history to point out the very real changes as well as the undeniable constants. Fourth, the causes and implications of collapse and change after 1985, including differences among specific regions in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, need attention. Here again, older themes such as ambivalence about Westernization, deserve attention.

Chapter 28
East Asia and the Twentieth Century
Chapter 28 looks at China and Japan in the twentieth century and includes a section as well on the economic development and political patterns of "Pacific rim" states since the 1950s. In terms of events, the chief foci are China's revolutionary period that opened in 1911 and continued through the communist seizure of power after World War II; the major phases of communist rule, including the Cultural Revolution and subsequent pragmatism; Japan's growing militarism and the patterns of the Pacific war in the 1930s and 1940s; and the stabilization and partial reformulation of Japanese society after 1945. Thematically, the chapter emphasizes China's distinctive pattern of change and its generally consistent effort to cut its own path independent of Western and Soviet models and also the ongoing limits to Chinese industrial development particularly until 1978. For Japan, with particular emphasis on the postwar decades, the obvious theme is rapid economic change coupled with distinctive values and political and economic forms. The larger rise of the Pacific Rim raises questions about how to explain the so-called special reasons for industrial dynamism in the region — including adaptations of Confucianism.
The chapter does not attempt a very close comparison of China and Japan. The two countries remained intertwined in the events of the twentieth century and shared a few basic characteristics which may be worth some discussion—only in East Asia, for example, has the government played such a great and successful role in population policy, a generalization that applies to both countries, though at slightly different dates. A very broad emphasis on group solidarity over individualism can also be noted, though it takes quite different forms and extents in the two countries, given their different political and economic systems. In many ways, more easily seen comparisons run between Japan and the West, as industrialized but quite different societies, and between China and the Soviet Union, as communist but quite different societies. Comparative discussions in these terms are suggested in the chapter and can be expanded upon in class.
China's long revolutionary period raises many lecture or discussion possibilities in terms of change and continuity. Students should see what Chinese leaders of various types thought they had to change, and why, but they should also see a few basic continuities that shine through as well, including some patterns of dealing with outside cultures. The sheer chaos of Chinese history at several twentieth-century junctures can be expanded in lecture. Since Japan has emerged despite various bouts of Westernization and the American occupation, as a clearly non-Westernized industrial giant, the theme of continuity amid change is a fertile topic here. This theme can usefully be explored in two overlapping kinds of discussion; one in which students are asked to "predict" whether Japan will become increasingly Western in terms of gender relations, consumerism, or labor protest; the other in which they discuss what Japanese patterns the West should now adopt and whether, in terms of cultural traditions, the West can in fact do so.

Chapter 29
India and Southeast Asia
This chapter deals with India and Southeast Asia. The focus is on the further development of nationalism, decolonization, and the establishment of varied political forms. Particular attention goes to India in the decades of nonviolent struggle for independence and the subsequent flowering of democratic political forms coupled with serious but checkered economic and social change.
The treatment of India raises now-familiar issues of continuity and change. Quite apart from the theme of economic development, India's ability to assimilate and adapt novel political and legal forms and combine them with considerable cultural and social traditionalism, presents a unique blend in world history today. This singularity can be further discussed through a comparison with Chinese patterns—a comparison that the chapter's conclusion is intended to launch (recall the earlier classical comparison, chapter 5). Most students will be inclined to give India somewhat short shrift in this comparison against China's literally revolutionary change and seeming willingness to challenge traditionalism directly; students' penchant may be enhanced by American press coverage, which for the past three decades has tended to neglect India in favor of the excitement at China's new pragmatic approach. But the magnitude and solidity of the Indian accomplishment deserve attention also, and a lecture prior to comparative discussion might deliberately sketch a pro-India case.
More specific topics also invite attention. Gandhi's tactics and vision quite deservedly command student interest, though there is some danger of equating Gandhi too completely with twentieth-century Indian history. The World Profile section invites discussion of Gandhi's impact but also its limits. Here's an obvious instance of the individual's role in history. The balance between religion and nationalism is a fruitful basis for exploring developments on the subcontinent both before and after independence, and can allow somewhat fuller discussion of Pakistan and Bangladesh than the chapter itself provides.
Treatment of Southeast Asia, in this chapter, is more strictly descriptive, since only rudimentary coverage has been offered previously. The point is to bring students up to minimum strength in terms of twentieth-century narrative, with emphasis on nationalism, decolonization, and the subsequent diversity of political forms. More thematic treatment can, however, be taken up on the basis of this coverage, with emphasis perhaps on the Vietnam-noncommunist split, the bases for authoritarian politics, and the conditions of the peasantry. Opportunity also exists for fuller exploration of the Vietnam War as a case study of the complexities of American involvement in world affairs, Southeast Asian affairs in particular.

Chapter 30
Middle Eastern Civilization in the Twentieth Century
The Middle East in the twentieth century has produced more than its share of events. This chapter covers at least some of the highlights: the collapse of the Ottoman empire after its involvement in World War I; the rise of a new Turkey and Iran, with their new economic policies of import substitution; the Western "mandates" in other parts of the Middle East and the rise of Arab nationalism; decolonization; the establishment of Israel; major political changes such as the overthrow of the Egyptian monarchy; major regional wars and frictions; and Islamic fundamentalism and the Iranian revolution.
Thematically, despite many positive and important changes, it is hard to avoid focusing on the region as a particularly troubled one. Political division in a region previously often united, disputes over political form, the disruptive preoccupation with Israel, and the many frictions between Islamic tradition and modern social and economic trends are all vital elements of the troubled theme. It is important, nevertheless, to grasp the region's real diversity as well as certain general positive trends, as in the area of advancing education, lest students see only conflicts and anti-Westernism. It is also vital to deal with change and division and traditionalist resistance to outside influence.
Several important topics pull at least partly away from the "trouble spot" motif. The conditions of women, including both changes and limitations on change, provide vital insight both into the topic generally—women in the modern world or in modernization—and into the distinctive culture of the Middle East. A more detailed exploration of Turkey or Egypt as secular republics that have moved far from traditional Islamic society without quite making a turn to full industrialization can help students grasp the real impulse to change as well as the more apparent constraints. Certainly the Iranian revolution invites comparison to other twentieth-century revolutions. It fits a schematic model of revolution quite well, and some of the constituent goals and participant groups also fit, but the overall thrust is unique and must be understood.
Three comparative frameworks seem potentially illuminating for lecture or discussion. Most feasible is a comparison of Islam and Hinduism as lively religions amid change. Both continue to have great cultural impact (in contrast, all things considered, to Christianity in the modern era in the West), yet their impact differs, as Hinduism seems on the whole more flexible. Students might fruitfully, once the context is established, discuss why. A second comparison that must really wait but might be prepared now concerns how the Middle East, though economically far more fortunate than most of sub-Saharan Africa, shares some features in political form—the tendency to authoritarian or one-party government, and the general avoidance of Marxism—that can usefully be explored. Finally, and partly by way of review of Western history, students might discuss why Islam and Christianity have turned out to play such different roles in their "native" societies in the twentieth century, despite many similarities in religious outlook and code. The West and Middle East are far more different today, in outlook and basic values, than they were, say, in the sixteenth century, and this raises questions of how and why. Careful treatment of Islamic fundamentalism, in historical perspective, is essential here.
One last point: the Middle East is a vital region in world affairs, and presents a fascinating case in which to discuss change and continuity in context of an old civilization meeting a new challenge. It also provides opportunity for a particularly demanding, and potentially rewarding, exercise in empathy, as students should use historical perspective and their knowledge of recent developments to grasp why Middle Eastern reactions to modernity have been so distinctive, why values we find obvious are there so widely questioned.

Chapter 31
Latin America in the Twentieth Century
Developments in twentieth-century Latin America include three major revolutions (in Mexico, Bolivia, and Cuba); a considerable transformation of authoritarian politics (though foreshadowed by a few of the nineteenth-century caudillos), including important measures of economic nationalism and extension of government authority; and an undercurrent of peasant unrest. In the twentieth century, the Latin American political style was not entirely altered from patterns developed previously, which include a tendency to oscillate between authoritarianism and parliamentary rule. It definitely evolved, however. Beyond politics is the complex theme of economic development and its limitations, including both foreign influence and rapid population growth, as well as the vitality of Latin American culture in its links with Western cultural forms, including consumerism, combined with emphases—including religious emphases—distinctive to the region itself.
Political structures and economic situations alike lend themselves to lectures or discussions focusing on continuity and change. Neither theme pulls away entirely from patterns established in the nineteenth century, but both are partially redefined. Discussion of revolution can feed into comparisons with other twentieth century revolutions in terms of causes and effects, or simply fuel fuller explorations that would allow comparisons between Mexico and Cuba. For discussion that can pull in many of the features of Latin America in a more open-ended context, the last question listed under essay topics, below, works well. Students aware of Latin America at all are so often mainly filled with a sense of problems, instability, and limitations that some emphasis on strengths and positive change can be a useful corrective: this should include discussion of partial industrialization in places like Brazil, Mexico, and Chile. Some instructors might wish to organize a discussion of the United States role (real or ideal) in twentieth-century Latin America, including the extent to which our own future may be increasingly influenced by developments to the south. It would be wise, in this context, to remind students that Latins are not the only Americans with problems. Finally, discussion of the pronounced democratization trend since the 1970s raises vital issues, among them what caused it and how solid is it?

Possible Tests and Exercises
Essay and Discussion Topics
Analogy: Five or six centuries ago, as older civilizations like China or India evolved, it was Europe, a previously backward and troubled area—long a dependent area in the world trade of the time, and beset by internal warfare and instability—that ended up surging to the fore. Many Latin Americans, particularly in vigorous centers such as Brazil, expect history to repeat itself, with Latin America taking the earlier role of the West and the West now settling in to the evolutionary pattern of decline characteristic of older, established cultures.

Chapter 32
Sub-Saharan Africa; From Colonies To New Nations
African history continues to have something of its own rhythm, and sub-Saharan Africa in the twentieth century can be approached from several vantage points. The unusual persistence of imperialism in conjunction with economic exploitation and attendant slightly tardy nationalism and independence, for example, form one angle. Given important regional distinctions, both old (language group, geography), and new (different heritages of different European colonizers), some instructors may wish to explore a few key countries as case studies of somewhat different patterns; this would be a clear and valid way to add detail to the present chapter without contradicting its main thrusts.
Chapter 32 lends itself to two particular thematic emphases. First, there is ample opportunity to compare Africa with Latin America or the Middle East-North Africa, in terms of the problems of dependent status in the world economy compounded by population surge, cash-drop dependency, development problems, efforts at political response, and urbanization, and also in terms of new-nation issues (here, comparison with nineteenth-century Latin America can be illuminating). The History Debate section urges further comparisons as a basis of assessing Africa's woes and promise. The point here is that several major features of recent African history, including the recent partial spread of democracy, resemble factors elsewhere. For the instructor justly concerned with burdening students with too many separate civilizations, this possibility of linking Africa to one or two other cases in a single main category can be very helpful.
The second theme, though, must involve some emphasis on African distinctiveness, though it does not contradict the comparative approach and can be interwoven with it. Twentieth-century Africa does seem involved in a process of cultural transformation more fundamental than any currently taking place elsewhere, its present experience is comparable rather to previous religious transformations such as the spread of monotheism in Western Europe or colonial Latin America. Simply helping students to put themselves in the shoes of people adapting to new or partially new religious, urban, educational, and linguistic settings is a fascinating task. The Understanding Cultures emphasis on the issue of identity invites further discussion.
Some instructors, finally, may wish to place Africa in a world-diplomacy framework, talking of Cold War currents (and African nonalignment efforts), the impact of the end of the Cold War, and, of course, the issue of South Africa. These are topics that can usefully be developed in greater detail, with the one caution that they not be allowed, in the student mind, to describe the whole of recent African history, whose main dramas lie elsewhere.
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