History | Revolution and Nationalism in Modern Asia
J400 | 3128 | O' Bryan

Above section open to majors only
Above section open to undergraduates only

This course examines revolution and nationalism as closely
interrelated ideas that increasingly came to dominate political and
social thought in Asia, as elsewhere, from the nineteenth century
onward. These concepts were both products and reflections of the
modern age--a time of rapid social change, new geopolitical power
arrangements, and increasingly intensive forms of economic
production and consumption. In great part, this will be a class
about ideas. We will examine the ways in which the concepts of
revolution and nations evolved in the major Asian societies of
India, China, and Japan from the late eighteenth century to the end
of the twentieth century. At the same time, we will also take note
of the social, political, and economic ways of acting--the social
movements, political programs, and economic policies--that these
concepts prompted. The exact nature of the relations between “ideas”
and “actions” or “ideas” and “historical events” remains a
complicated question with which historians constantly wrestle.
Throughout the class, therefore, we will attempt to reflect on
common assumptions about the ways ideas and doctrines influence
people’s actions, both in daily life and in such wider public
spheres as politics and economics. Assignments will include a term
paper for which students will choose the writings of one prominent
Asian activist and analyze his or her understandings of one of the
following three concepts: progress, revolution, nation.