Forgotten Empires of Asia : Footnotes to History

Forgotten Empires of Asia : Footnotes to History

OSH 114 / Non Credit
Course taught in: English
Locations: TBA
Instructor: Marsha Cohen

Course Description

Conventional Asian history, when it is taught in the west at all, focuses primarily on China and Japan. This course will explore some of the lesser known empires of Asia, and how their history can help us to better understand the factors that have brought them into conflict with one another, and with the West. We'll examine the historical background, culture and achievements of the Tibetan; Srivijayan; Angkor (Khmer); Seljuk; Mughal (Timurid); and Afghan (Durrani) empires.

Week 1  Tibet: Between the 7th-9th centuries, the Tibetan empire stretched across Asia, far beyond the Tibetan plateau. The indigenous Bon religion of Tibet encountered Buddhism, with which it merged, creating Tibet’s distinctive Buddhist doctrines and rituals.
Week 2 Srivijaya: The Hindu-Buddhist kingdom of Srivijaya was the first major Indonesian kingdom and the first major Indonesian commercial empire and sea power. Founded in eastern Sumatra the end of the 6th century, by the 7th century it had established suzerainty over large regions of Sumatra, western Java, and the Malay peninsula. Between the 8th to 13th centuries, the Srivijayan empire controlled the strategic Molucca Straits on the India-China trade route and much of the trade in the area, extending as far north as the Thai peninsula.
Week 3 Angkor (Khmer): For more than 600 years, from the 9th-15th centuries, the Angkor (Khmer) Empire dominated southeast Asia, ruling over much of what is now Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam. At the pinnacle of the empire’s power in the 11th to 13th centuries, Angkor was the largest pre-industrial urban center in the world, whose majestic monuments testify to the wealth and aesthetic sophistication of the Khmers of southeast Asia a millennium ago.
Week 4 Seljuk: The Seljuk Empire (1137-1294) controlled a vast area stretching from the Hindu Kush to western Anatolia and from Central Asia to the Persian Gulf. The Seljuks are best known for uniting the eastern Islamic world in resisting the First and Second Crusades. They also founded universities and were patrons of Turkic-Persian art, literature, and science.
Week 5 Mughal (Timurid), The Timurid Empire, ruled most of the Indian subcontinent for nearly 300 years (16th and 17th centuries), at its zenith ruling 160 million people. During the Timurid era, international trade flourished. The melding of Persian and Indian architectural styles created some of the world's best-known monuments, and the Urdu language emerged as a blend of Hindi with Persian and Arabic.
Week 6 Afghan (Durrani) Empire: Founded in 1747 by Ahmad Shah Durrani, the Baba (“father”) of Afghanistan, the Afghan empire at the pinnacle of its power extended over modern-day Afghanistan, Pakistan, parts of northeastern Iran, eastern Turkmenistan, and northwestern India including Kashmir and the Punjab, and as far south as the Arabian Sea.

Dr. Marsha B. Cohen, Ph.D., is a scholar, lecturer and news analyst who specializes in Middle Eastern social history and politics and the role of religion in world affairs. She taught International Relations at Florida International University for over a decade and worked with the UM Master of Arts in the International Administration (MAIA) program from 2009-2011, as well as teaching adult education courses and lecturing in a variety of venues locally and nationally.