In this discussion-based class we will study several moments of "first encounters" between Westerners and non-Westerners from 1800 to the present. We will focus specifically on sites where encounters between different groups of people have occurred, ranging from a battlefield or a colonial outpost to more unconventional places such as an opera house, a science lab, a museum, or a restaurant. In thinking about these encounters and the ways in which global structures intersected with and shaped local histories, we will ask a wide range of questions, including (but not limited to) the following: what conditions led to different kinds of encounters between Europeans and non-Europeans? How did these cultural encounters create possibilities for understanding or misunderstanding throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries? How have cultural encounters reshaped the arts around the world? By thinking critically about the function of cultural encounters throughout history, we will better understand how powerful discourses about empire, migration, race, gender, and nationality have created the world we live in today.
Highlights of the semester include: visiting UMMA, attending a UMS concert, and eating food at an Indian restaurant.
In addition to producing a small ethnographic project and writing several brief response papers, students will write a larger research paper exploring a cultural encounter in a region of their choice.