Thursday, November 13, 2008

When the steppe meets empire - MMW 4 review

UCSD podcasts are invariably a brief pleasure. Available as long as new installments in the feed are expected, but taken from us, swiftly after the last lecture as the lights flicking on in the cinema, when the end titles are still rolling. History lovers will need to be on guard and rake in MMW 4 (Making of the Modern World, era 1200 - 1750) by Professor Matthew Herbst, when they still can. (feed)

MMW 4, just as MMW 3 last year, distinguishes itself from other world history podcasts in that it pays so much more attention to the world beyond the Western. This slight shift in perspective brings with it new insights, like in the previous review, where we learned about the Mongols taking over nearly the entire Eurasian continent. This is where globalization began. And this meant trade as well as plague.

The rule of the Mongols was to be short, but the steppe proxies they put in power, even if assimilated, ruled so much longer and continued to add a steppe flavor to the old empires. Elements of this steppe flavor were religious pluralism and a more equal position for women. This went even for the Muslim Mughals, who ruled India and who, as so many other Mongols (Mughal is a Persian word for Mongol) had converted to Islam. It allowed them to rule the largely Hindu peoples of India and maintain a stable rule. They gave us Akbar and Shajahan. They built the Taj Mahal.

More Matthew Herbst:
Gengis Khan,
MMW 4 first review,
The Kingdom of Ghana,
Gupta History,
World history outside the European box.

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