Explore commonly taught topics along with related primary sources, discussion questions, teaching strategies, and annotated bibliographies.
Short Teaching Module: Science, Technology, and the U.S. Military-Industrial Complex during the Cold War
For decades, the relationship between science and the U.S. government during the early Cold War years was understood largely as a story of a militaristic state persecuting and co-opting scientists and scientific institutions to serve national security interests.
Cross-border mobility has created borderland cultures and led to the development of vibrant communities that in some cases have stretched across several states. One example of this is West Africa, where during the colonial period, people continued to move between different colonies, ignoring the limits that colonial powers sought to put on their mobility.
Building materials are an important component of construction. The characteristics of each material determine the properties of a structure that can be built. Building styles in different parts of the world are markedly different from one another due to various factors such as climate and humidity, not to mention the availability and convenience of each material.
There have been many different approaches to studying seafaring in the past. We can look at the evidence of voyages in books written by prominent explorers or follow the maps maintained by successful prominent trading companies. We can use the objects left behind, showing who traveled where, when, and across what expanses of sea.
Starting at the turn of the twentieth century, U.S. and insular government offices and textile and garment businesses incorporated women of the New South and Puerto Rico into manufacturing in distinct yet interrelated ways. Despite these complexities, Crystal Lee Sutton, a mill hand and union member in North Carolina, became the focus of media attention in the early 1970s.
Scholars often study citizenship and denaturalization in national frameworks. The history of legal status and its attendant politics and bureaucratic processes in the United States has long been tied to imperial constellations however.
For a long time, historians tended to study colonial empires of the 19th and 20th centuries one colony at a time, or through the relationship of one colony to its metropole. Increasingly, though, historians are interested in studying global empires as interconnected systems that shaped globalization by channeling the flow (or lack thereof) of people, goods, and ideas through imperial pathways.
Source Collection: Pan-Africanism, Anticolonialism and Addressing the Problem of the Global Color Line in the 20th Century
At the turn of the 20th century, a growing number of Black intellectuals and activists across the Atlantic world no longer saw institutionalized racial inequality, racial hierarchy, and white supremacy as problems confined to the borders of individual nations. Rather, they increasingly viewed the “color line” as a power dynamic that operated globally and transcended national borders.
This essay pushes back against European-dominated narratives of world history to suggest that the Omani Empire was a crucial space for the emergence of our present-day system of global capitalism. By 1850, the Omani Empire was a marketspace with its capital in Zanzibar, stretching from there north to the Persian Gulf.
The decades after World War II witnessed rapid decolonization of European empires and a dramatic increase in independence movements for colonized peoples.
Lyon, France, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, are connected by the thread of social capital, or people power. This essay situates social capital as an non-financial asset possessed by people who have little wealth, but who use a variety of strategies to facilitate community improvements.
This module focuses on medical texts written by British doctors working in India and their gendered and racial categorization of ailments and diseases. A detailed analysis of medical texts from the nineteenth century shows the ways in which medical practitioners in Colonial India dedicated much of their time to treating female issues such as menstrual cramps, hysteria, and labor pains.
In 1953, L. P. Hartley famously wrote: “The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there." His observation is particularly relevant for world historians, who have to engage in translation projects to bridge the distance between our world and the worlds of our historical actors.
A strength of teaching from a transnational perspective is that it forces us to reorient our viewpoint and consider new approaches to our subjects. This is particularly true when looking at modern Latin American history.
In their primer essay, Jessica Hanser and Adam Clulow note how scholars of global microhistory explore relationships between macro and micro, deep structures and contingency, and big state actors and minor players.
Law is not only to be found in doctrine and documents, but also in structures and materials, in buildings and in cloth, in paintings and in photos. World historians use visual and material evidence to examine colonial courtrooms and other imperial legal spaces and to address broader questions of law, race and empire.
Knowledge knows no national boundaries. Therefore, the history of knowledge also has to move beyond national boundaries to understand how knowledge was produced, moved, and adapted. Telling such a history without the limitations of national boundaries is challenging.
Border changes have been a central part of 20th century European history. This lesson will examine a few key maps and documents that explore the creation, expansion, and dissolution of the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union arose from the First World War, was expanded by the Second World War, and was destroyed by the Cold War.
Although American merchants often fade from historical narratives after the eighteenth century, they remained influential actors in the United States and abroad. As western expansion and industrialization reshaped the nation’s economy, American traders dispatched voyages around the world in search of new opportunities.
Early twentieth century microbiologists thought of their work as inherently transnational, and world historians have begun to do the same. The West African yellow fever epidemic of 1927-28 offers an exemplary opportunity to study how French scientists and African politicians used imperial and international networks to reimagine colonial public health policies.