Thailand & Cambodia 2014

cropped-img_1222.jpgThis five-week program took place in Thailand, with excursions to Ayutthaya, Chiang Mai, and to Siem Reap and Angkor in Cambodia.

The MMW course examines world history from the eighteenth century to the First World War.  It explores such topics as the Enlightenment and its global repercussions, revolution and reform, industrialization, nationalism, modernization, westernization, and imperialism. The course provides a global perspective, while giving particular attention to Southeast Asia.  MMW14 explores the impact of the widening gap between the technological, economic, and military power of Western nations and much of the world.  We examine links and tensions between modernization, westernization, and indigenous culture.  In terms of Southeast Asia, Siam was the only kingdom to escape direct European domination, unlike the islands of the Philippines which had fallen prey to Spain (and then to the United States), Indonesia to the Dutch, Burma and the Malay Peninsula to the British, and Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam to the French.   MMW14 traces Siam’s process of modernization and its relationship with the West and compares this to other experiences in the region and around world.

This second course provides an overview of Southeast Asian history and culture, focusing particularly on the Khmer and Thai experience.  We start with Angkor which had dominated much of the Southeast Asian mainland and explore Khmer culture and its remarkable imperial center at Angkor (which we visit on this GS program).  In the 15th century Angkor was eclipsed by the Thai Kingdom of Ayutthaya which established its own hegemony until it was destroyed by the Burmese in the 18th century (we will visit Ayutthaya as well).   Course topics include:  geography, ethnic and linguistic diversity, Theravadan Buddhism and its social and political significance, Hinduism and Hindu-influenced religious and political ideas, the impact of Islam and Christianity, epic traditions (notably the Ramakien, the Thai national epic which is derived from the Indian Ramayana), trade and mercantile interests, architecture, dance, music, and cuisine.     This course will be taught in partnership with faculty from Chulalongkorn University.   Click here for a student perspective on this work.

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