Taking Sides World History: Clashing Views on Controversial Issues in World History / Edition 2by Joseph R. Mitchell, Helen Buss Mitchell
Pub. Date: 11/28/2004
Publisher: McGraw-Hill Companies, The
This debate-style reader is designed to introduce students to controversies in world history through readings that reflect a variety of viewpoints. Each issue is framed with an issue summary, an issue introduction, and a postscript. The Taking Sides readers feature annotated listings of selected World Wide Web sites.
Table of ContentsPART 1. The Ancient World
ISSUE 1. Did Homo Sapiens Originate in Africa?
NO: Milford Wolpoff and Rachel Caspari, from Race and Human Evolution (Simon & Schuster, 1997)
Professor and researcher Stephen Oppenheimer states that genetic, archaeological, and climatic evidence proves that modern humans first developed in Africa and then spread to other parts of the world, referred to as the "out of Africa" theory. Paleoanthropologists Milford Wolpoff and Rachel Caspari claim that scientific evidence proves that humans developed simultaneously in different parts of the world, now called the "multiregional" theory.
ISSUE 2. Was Egyptian Civilization African?
YES: Clinton Crawford, from Recasting Ancient Egypt in the African Context: Toward a Model Curriculum Using Art and Language (Africa World Press, 1996)
NO: Kathryn A. Bard, from “Ancient Egyptians and the Issue of Race,” in Mary R. Lefkowitz and Guy MacLean Rgoers, eds., Black Athena Revisited (University of North Carolina Press, 1996)
Clinton Crawford, an assistant professor who specializes in African arts and languages as communications systems, asserts that evidence from the fields of anthropology, history, linguistics, and archaeology proves that the ancient Egyptians and the culture they produced were of black African origin. Assistant professor of archaeology Kathryn A. Bard argues that although black African sources contributed to the history and culture of ancient Egypt, its civilization was basically multicultural in origin.
ISSUE 3. Was Sumerian Civilization Exclusively Male-Dominated?
YES: Chester G. Starr, from A History of the Ancient World (Oxford University Press, 1965)
NO: Samuel Noah Kramer, from “Poet and Psalmists: Goddesses and Theologians: Literary, Religious, and Anthropological Aspects of the Legacy of Sumer,” in Denise Schmandt-Besserat, ed., The Legacy of Sumer: Invited Lectures on the Middle East at the University of Texas at Austin (Undena Publications, 1976)
Historian Chester G. Starr finds Sumerian society to be male dominated, from the gods to human priests and kings, and he barely acknowledges the status of women in either the heavenly or the earthly realm. Museum curator Samuel Noah Kramer relies on much of the same data as Starr, but finds powerful goddesses and earthly women to have played prominent roles in both cosmic and everyday Sumerian life.
ISSUE 4. Does Alexander the Great Deserve His Reputation?
YES: N.G.L. Hammond, from The Genius of Alexander the Great (University of North Carolina Press, 1997)
NO: Ian Worthington, from “How ‘Great' Was Alexander?” The Ancient History Bulletin (April-June 1999)
Professor emeritus of Greek N.G.L. Hammond states that research has proven that Alexander the Great is deserving of his esteemed historical reputation. Professor Ian Worthington counters that Alexander's actions were self-serving and eventually weakened his Macedonian homeland; therefore, he does not merit the historical reputation he has been given.
ISSUE 5. Did Christianity Liberate Women?
YES: Karen L. King, from “Women in Ancient Christianity: The New Discoveries,” a Report From FRONTLINE (April 6, 1998)
Professor of New Testament Studies and the History of Ancient Christianity Karen L. King presents evidence from biblical and other recently discovered ancient texts to illuminate women's active participation in early Christianity -- as disciples, apostles, prophets, preachers, and teachers. Art Historian Lisa Bellan-Boyer uses mimetic theory to explain why women's richly diverse roles were severely circumscribed in the name of unity and in order to make the new religion of Christianity acceptable in the Greco-Roman world.
History professor Antonio Santosuosso states that the Roman Empire's inability to cope with demands involving the defense of the empire were responsible for its demise. Professor of history Peter Heather claims that the invasion of the Huns forced other barbarians to use tribal unity as a survival technique and to seek safety within the confines of the Roman Empire, thus permitting the invasion of the Huns to bring about the fall of the Roman Empire.
ISSUE 7. Did Same-Sex Unions Exist In Medieval Europe?
Reviewer Ralph Hexter contends that John Boswell was correct in asserting that same-sex unions did exist in early medieval Europe until they were gradually done away with by the Christian church. Reviewer Philip Lyndon Reynolds, while admitting that "brotherhood" ceremonies took place in the prescribed period, asserts that these ceremonies did not have the same authority as sacred unions and therefore cannot be equated with marriage rites.
ISSUE 8. Were Environmental Factors Responsible for the Collapse of Maya Civilization?
Professor of geography and of environmental health sciences Jared Diamond states that environmentally-related factors were responsible for the Maya collapse. Anthropology professor Payson D. Sheets claims that warfare was a way of life among the Mayas and may have played a role in their civilization's collapse. Anthropology professor Payson Sheets stresses military expansion as a potential cause of the Maya Collapse.
ISSUE 9. Does the Modern University Have its Roots in the Islamic World?
YES: Mehdi Nakosteen, from Hisotry of Islamic Origins of Western Education A.D. 800-1350 (University of Colorado Press, 1964)
Professor of history and philosophy of education Mehdi Nakosteen traces the roots of the modern university to the golden age of Islamic culture (750-1150 C.E.) He maintains that Muslim scholars assimilated the best of classical scholarship and developed the experimental method and the university system, which they passed on to the West before declining. Emeritus Professor of Sociology Walter Rüegg calls the university "the European institution par excellence, citing its origin as a community of teachers and taught, accorded certain rights that included the granting of degrees, and as a creation of medieval Europe -- the Europe of papal Christianity.
ISSUE 10. Did Women and Men Benefit Equally from the Renaissance?
YES: Margaret L. King, from Women of the Renaissance (University of Chicago Press, 1991)
NO: Joan Kelly-Gadol, from “Did Women Have a Renaissance?” in Renate Bridenthal, Claduia Koonz, and Susan Stuard, eds., Becoming Visible: Women in European History, 2d ed. (Houghton Mifflin, 1987)
Historian Margaret L. King surveys Renaissance women in domestic, religious, and learned settings and finds reflected in their lives a new consciousness of themselves as women, as intelligent seekers of a new way of being in the world. Historian Joan Kelly-Gadol discovered in her work as a Renaissance scholar that well-born women seemed to have enjoyed greater advantages during the Middle Ages and experienced a relative loss of position and power during the Renaissance.
ISSUE 11. Was Zen Buddhism the Primary Shaper of the Samurai Warrior Code?
YES: Winston L. King, from Zen and the Way of the Sword: Arming the Samurai Psyche (Oxford Unisersity Press, 1993)
NO: Catharina Blomberg, from The Heart of the Warrior: Origins and Religious Background of the Samurai System in Feudal Japan (Japan Library, 1994)
Religious scholar Winston L. King credits the monk Eisai with introducing Zen to the Hojo samurai lords of Japan who recognized its affinity with the warrior's profession and character. Japanologist Catharina Blomberg emphasizes the diversity of influences on the samurai psyche—Confucianism, Shinto, and Zen—stressing the conflict between a warrior's duty and Buddhist ethical principles.
Anthropology professor Jack Weatherford argues that despite the Mongol's reputation for barbarity, Genghis Khan was in many ways an enlightened and benevolent ruler who brought significant reforms to the Mongols and the peoples they conquered. Journalist Mike Edwards counters that although Genghis Khan did have an enlightened side, the barbarity of his conquests overwhelms any good that he may have accomplished.
ISSUE 13. Did China's Worldview Cuase the Abrupt End of its Voyages of Exploration?
YES: Nicholas D. Kristof, from “1492: The Prequel,” The New York Times Magazine (June 6, 1999)
NO: Bruce Swanson, from Eighth Voyage of the Dragon: A History of China's Quest for Seapower (Naval Institute Press, 1982)
Journalist Nicholas D. Kristof states that China's worldview, shaped by centuries of philosophical and cultural conditioning, was responsible for its decision to cease its maritime ventures during the Ming dynasty. Bruce Swanson acknowledges that China's worldview played a role in its decision to cease its maritime programs, but maintains that there were other, more practical considerations that were responsible for that decision.
Writer Robert Royal states that although there were negatives that emanated from Columbus's New World discoveries, they continue to "remind us of the glorious and ultimately providential destiny on the ongoing global journey that began in the fifteenth century." Writer Gerald Vizenor uses an evaluation of sources on the Columbus discoveries to argue that they had a deleterious effect on the world that Columbus claimed he discovered.
ISSUE 15. Did Martin Luther's Reforms Improve the Lives of European Christians?
YES: Robert Kolb, from Martin Luther as Prophet, Teacher, Hero: Images of the Reformer, 1520-1620 (Baker Books, 1999)
NO: Hans Küng, from Great Christian Thinkers, trans. John Bowden (Continuum, 1996)
Religion and history professor Robert Kolb contends that Martin Luther was seen as a prophetic teacher and hero whose life brought hope, divine blessing, and needed correctives to the Christian chruch. Thologian and professor emeritus of theology Hans Küng views Martin Luther as the inaugurator of a paradigm shift and as the unwitting creator of both bloody religious wars and an unhealthy subservience by ordinary Christians to local rulers in worldly matters.
ISSUE 16. Were the Witch-Hunts in Premodern Europe Misogynistic?
YES: Anne Llewellyn Barstow, from “On Studing Witchcraft as Women's History: A Historiography of the European Witch Persecutions,” Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion (Fall 1988)
History Professor Anne Llewellyn Barstow claims that the European witch hunt movement made women its primary victims, and was used as an attempt to control their lives and behavior. History professor Robin Briggs states that although women were the witch hunt's main victims, gender was not the only determining factor in this socio-cultural movement.
ISSUE 17. Was the Scientific Revolution Revolutionary?
NO: Steven Shapin, from The Scientific Revolution (University of Chicago Press, 1996)
Distinguished Professor Emeritus of History and Philosophy of Science Edward Grant argues that there was a revolution in science that took place in the seventeenth century; however, it might have been delayed by centuries if several key developments between 1175 and 1500 had not paved the way for it. Professor of Sociology and Historian of Science Steven Shapin questions the idea of a Scientific Revolution, suggesting greater continuity with the past and rejecting a single time/space event we might call a Scientific Revolution.
ISSUE 18. Did the West Define the Modern World?
YES: William H. McNeill, from The Rise of the West: A History of the Human Community (University of Chicago Press, 1991)
Professor of History William H. McNeill states that in 1500 Western Europe began to extend influence to other parts of the world, resulting in a revolution in world relationships, in which the West was the principal beneficiary. History professor Philip D. Curtin states that the amount of control the West had over the rest of the world was mitigated by the European colonial process and the reaction it engendered throughout the world.
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