RTTP Module 5: Power, Politics & Culture

**NOTE: this module is part of the RTTP (Reacting to the Past) sequence**


This module focuses on the relationships between space and power, and the development of various cultures within those spaces. The Ottoman and Safavid civilizations, for example, put different emphasis on political spaces under their control. We should also consider geographic space and the influence of European and western narratives on our overall understanding of world history from the 16th-18th centuries. Sebastian Conrad challenges predominantly Western narrative of the Enlightenment and calls for historians to think more critically about how those narratives were received and manipulated by historical actors. Finally, chapter 14 in Worlds Together, Worlds Apart considers the impact of private and gendered spaces, particularly in the case of footbinding in China.

Objectives: After completing Module 5, you will be able to

  1. Contextualize major Islamic cultures and empires (Ottoman, Safavid)
  2. Understand the Enlightenment as a global phenomenon.
  3. Describe the relationship between space and political power between 1500-1780
  4. Analyze maps from various global perspectives as primary sources.


Section 1: Islamic World

  1. Read Worlds Together, Worlds Apart Chapter 14.
  2. As you read, pay special attention to the focus on space throughout this chapter. There are three primary source sections focusing on Islamic, Chinese, and European views of the world and the “Political Uses of Space” on page 525. (for additional optional background see the Ottoman History Podcast “Mapping the Ottomans“)
  3. Complete the Historical Thinking Worksheet on Blackboard using one of the maps from Chapter 14 as your primary source. If necessary, you may conduct an internet image search to locate clearer illustrations of the maps in the textbook. *Note: only use the specific maps from our textbook as your source however*


Section 2: Enlightenment

  1. Read Sebastian Conrad’s article “Enlightenment in Global History: A Historiographical Critique” (this article is available through the CSU library. Use your CSU credentials to log in and use the library resources).
  2. Complete the Historical Thinking Worksheet for Conrad’s article. This is a secondary source, so remember, it is an interpretation of historical evidence (i.e. primary sources). Think about Conrad’s context as a scholar in the field of history. Use these questions to brainstorm: What is happening in the world when he wrote this article? What do you need to know to evaluate his work further? How does his argument contradict mainstream knowledge about the Enlightenment?
  3. On the course discussion board, tell the class if you agree with Conrad’s arguments. Why or why not?

Congratulations! You completed Module 5.

Go to Module 6