Empire Histories and Urban Histories: Teaching the History of Malacca in an Undergraduate World History Survey Class

Saturday, January 5, 2013: 10:00 AM
Balcony K (New Orleans Marriott)
Ashley Wright, Kwantlen Polytechnic University
My paper will propose one strategy to use in teaching the comparative history of empires in the context of an undergraduate world history survey course. Teaching empire histories in this context presents many challenges, among them how to present complexity without losing students in detail, how to draw out parallels without flattening distinctions, and how to navigate between disparate times and places while maintaining a cohesive narrative.  The suggested approach looks closely at a narrowly defined urban space across a relatively broad chronological sweep. The place, Malacca in the example that my paper will focus on, thus serves as an entry point to a comparative study of Dutch, Portuguese and British empires.  Lecturing about the history of Malacca as a microcosm of the history of European empires in Southeast Asia means moving between the specific and the local to the global and theoretical. More than this, it shows that the local and the global became increasingly connected.