The West and the World (1)

Discipline: Semester at Sea Seminars
Instructor: Salisbury
Credits: 3
Day: A
Start: 1425
End: 1540
Field Work: Day 6 - Ho Chi Minh City - 19 February | Vietnam
Prerequisites: None Download Syllabus

From ancient times to our modern global village, people in the West and the world interacted and shared elements of their culture – from goods, to inventions, to abstract ideas. This course will focus on the itinerary of the voyage and explore the interactions between the West and the world that shaped the history and culture of the lands we will visit. The course will focus on two major global developments: 1) the history of ideas that were transformative (for better or worse), and 2) the environmental impacts that accompanied the movements of people and ideas.

As we cross the Pacific, we will begin with World War II, the moment when people in the West finally acknowledged they lived in a global world. From there, we move back in time as we study the roots of Marxism and its expression in China and the cold war leading to the VietNam War. We will look at imperialism, for example in Hong Kong, India and Africa, capitalism and its global implications in modern China, the sugar trade in lands like Mauritius, and the slave trade in Africa. Some transformative ideas originated in the world and moved west, and we will particularly study the force of pacifism from India to Cape Town to Myanmar.

The movement of people and ideas around the world had implications for many aspects of society beyond the abstract history of ideas. Therefore, we will also consider ecological implications from the Dodo bird to the nuclear age that led to Hiroshima and the recent Japanese nuclear accident at Fukushima. As people moved around the world, they changed the ecology in ways that continue to shape the world and people’s lives.

The course will be organized in accordance with our itinerary, and include lectures, readings and discussion to give students a fuller understanding of both the world and the West.



Field Work

Country: Vietnam
Day: 6 - Ho Chi Minh City - 19 February

We will use art and artifacts as primary sources to explore the points of view of the war between the U.S. and Vietnam. We will begin with a discussion on the functions of museums and memorials in preserving cultural memories. Then we will go the War Remnants Museum and tour the exhibits, focusing on the way they show the nature of the war. After lunch we will go to the Ho Chi Minh City Fine Arts Museum and tour the facility that shows the heritage of the French occupation as well as the American war. Academic Objectives:

  1. Study how the Vietnamese remember their past. Compare with western techniques of preservation of history and memory.
  2. Use art and artifacts as primary sources to explore the integration of western and Vietnamese cultures.
  3. Consider how the Vietnamese remember and memorialize the American War, both with art and artifacts. Compare and contrast with western treatment of the same topic.