This course explores the development of modern nation-states in Asia and Africa in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, focusing on themes of nation-building and identity formation. We will discuss the ways in which intellectuals in the colonial and postcolonial eras articulated a sense of local, national, or regional identity. Among the ideologies we will consider in addition to state-based nationalism will be Marxism, Arab nationalism, pan-Islamism, pan-Asianism, pan-Africanism, and Third World solidarity. We will read, discuss, and compare primary sources by writers from countries including Algeria, China, Egypt, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, the Soviet Union, and Syria.
The course will take an anthropological and socio-legal approach to understanding humanitarianism, this “ethic of kindness,” that guides much social, political, and moral debate around how to address the suffering of groups and individuals, especially those far-away and bearing little resemblance to us, either physically or culturally. Through an interdisciplinary approach, the course will trace the underlying moral and political considerations that lead us to care about the suffering of others. Throughout the course, there will be a focus on the politics that affect and shape humanitarianism as a response to human suffering.