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Asia Since 1800 Final Essay

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Denis Vovchenko
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Asia Since 1800 Final Essay

Clay’s and Jennifer Jung-Kim’s videos were helpful in contextualizing the assigned primary and secondary sources. The readings themselves helped me make connections to relevant topics in European and world history.

Here are some examples of what I mean. All four Discussion 1 articles focus on longterm changes, an end of an era of Asian economic miracles (slowing or declining population growth, inefficient agriculture, shrinking fulltime job prospects). These sad trends may have a silver lining – pollution as in S. Korea (and China) should get less bad with fewer people and less dynamic industrial growth going forward.

In Discussion 2, Qianlong’s reply to George III’s mission (1794) raised several questions in my brain that I could pose to my students. Did Qianlong’s arrogance simply go back to the vassal state tradition? Or did he also know about George III’s loss of the 13 colonies? Another parallel I had in mind was Selim III’s letter to Louis XVI. Clearly, Selim III was a new sultan in contrast to the much more experienced Qianlong. Still, Selim III came from the Ottoman tradition of treating the Christian (and Shiite Iranian) rulers as inferior. Still, Selim III asked for advice instead of semi-politely rejecting any contact in the manner of Qianlong in 1794. In both cases, pride goes before fall. In 1796, China would be plunged into the White Lotus Uprising (1796-1804). Selim III’s model, Louis XVI, would be humbled following the Bastille Day that same year. Not to say that the French king was totally incompetent. He would accept the constitution but then it would be a perfect storm for both rulers. Selim III would outlive Louis XVI but would also fall victim to internal violence in 1805-1807.

I loved Noriko’s module on Mitsukoshi stores and especially the part on imperialism but it may go over the heads of my undergraduate students. It may be more appropriate for graduate students. I found the Nanking Treaty materials more easily relatable to European and world history. It is clearly an admission of defeat – the most humiliating part would be the privilege to set up extraterritorial settlements and neighborhoods. The compensation part is not unusual – the defeated European powers were also required to do the same (like France after the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-1871 or Germany after WWI). Another example of European usage is calling fellow monarchs as “my brother.”

To sum up, while I personally benefited from the introductory video lectures, I can also use many readings in my European and world history undergraduate courses.