TO NOMADIC CULTURES
Quarter 2009 Schedule
Professor: Edward Vajda (rhymes with the
"vita" in "vitamin.")
Office: Humanities 255
Office Telephone: 650-4856
Office hours: MW: 12-1
E-mail: edward.vajda.wwu.edu (best way to contact me)
Course grade: Four tests, each worth 25 percent of your course grade. Test 4 is given during finals week, is not cumulative, and is equally weighted to the other three tests.
Grading Scale: 100-95=A; 94-93=A-; 92-90=B+; 89-83=B; 82-80=B-; 79-78=C+; 77-72=C; 71-70=C-
This course introduces you to the native peoples and cultures of North and Middle Asia, as well as the traditionally nomadic peoples of Southwest Asia (the "Middle East"). After learning the basic geographic and political features of Siberia, the Russian Far East, Mongolia, Central Asia, and the northern and inner regions of the People's Republic of China, we will examine the traditional lifeways of the native peoples of this vast area. Native Siberian and Inner Asian ethnology will occupy us for the first half of the course. The next two weeks are devoted to the impact of Chinese (both imperial and communist) and Russian (tsarist and soviet) policies on the traditional lifeways of the nomadic peoples who came under their rule. The last two weeks cover the rise of pastoralism in Southwest Asia and the peoples (Arabs, Turks, Iranians, Hindus) who derive from these early nomads. In total, this course provides you with a historical introduction to most peoples of modern Eurasia, excluding India and Southeast Asia.
Suggestions for home study: Reading assignments and other homework should be done after attending the lecture on the particular day the assignment is listed. Studying an area of the world so far removed from American experience, one cannot avoid encountering a complex array of unfamiliar geographical and ethnic terms. Try memorizing the many geographic and ethnic names as quickly as possible, as this will aid comprehension when reading the textbook. Knowledge of these names will figure prominently on the tests.