12 September 2005

Bland World History

I've never been very impressed with the focus on western history in world history classes. Even the world history book I'm using leave something to be desired because of its focus on Western history. (Admittedly, it's much better than a lot of books I've seen since it does make an effort to cover the entire world. It just goes into much more detail about Europe in comparison to the rest of the world.)

This is not to say that I'm a proponent of promoting diversity in history. It is a simple historical fact that a vast majority of the movers and shakers in history have been men. Outside Africa and recent history in the Western Hemisphere, blacks haven't had much of a global impact. If you want to study women and minorities, I suggest learning about daily life. That can give a broader picture of what people's lives really were like since most people, men or women, or whatever else, didn't do much worth the writing.

I've been reading about the history of Central Asia again. In world history courses and textbooks, Central Asia usually gets its only mention in relation to the Mongols, and even that is a rather cursory glance. Many people don't realize that the largest empire in history was the Mongol Empire. It is a fascinating time in history, but since the Mongols didn't penetrate very far into Europe, we in the West just don't hear much about them.

There are other gaping holes regarding Central Asia. Mostly it is portrayed as a vast steppe with roaming nomads who took it into their heads every so often to go out and slaughter lots of people. There is rarely any mention of the Moghuls, the sedentary lifestyle of many of the people, the great rivers, the origins of the different people there, or anything like that. But you do hear plenty about various European tribes.

So, here's a link to some Central Asian history. It really is a fascinating place. And reading about it will have to do for me till we can do some traveling around here.


  1. Thanks for the link. I spent the day reading about Central Asia.

    When I was looking at pictures of children in KG there was a lot of ethnic diversity. I know that you have talked about the borders of countries there being divided up by the USSR to ease tensions in the past. Is there ethnic/culture unrest there?

  2. There isn't much unrest that is obvious, but it is there. There was some awful violence about 15 years ago in the south. Most people were horrified by it though. It was mostly against the Uzbeks.

    There also was concern when the government changed because Bakiyev is perceived as being more pro-Kyrgyz that Akaev was.

    Do I know you, anonymous? I think I might.

  3. Amira~

    I didn't have time yesterday to delve into your link, and leave a comment, but I spent the day really thinking about what you said.

    I spent quite some time, in college studying various different aspects of history. Mostly monitary issues, as I studied Economics. After much contemplation, I am completely astonished to realize the blantant truth to your words. Thank you so much for bringing this to light. It is perplexing to me, that I have not noticed this prior to now.

    It is interesting, the question on ethnic diversity. Is there prejedices that are obvious?

    What has been the most surprising thing you have come across thus far.

    Thank you so much for, You.

  4. I really haven't noticed obvious prejudices, but I can't speak Russian or Kyrgyz, so I haven't been able to talk to many people. I found when I was learning Arabic that it made a big difference when you could speak the other person's language. They were more willing to tell you things that they might not have said in English.

    That being said, the thing that has surprised me most is how easy it is to get along without Russian or Kyrgyz here. I never before could understand how a person could live in a foreign country for years and never learn the language. I understand now, and I can see how easy it would be to just let the time slip by and not learn Russian.

    I've got a lot more posts about Kyrgyzstan and Central Asia in the works. This really is an incredibly interesting place.

  5. Let me clarify what I said. I could usually understand *how* you could get by without learning the language, but not *why.* The why is clearer now.