Join us for "Tasting Trade/Trading Tastes: Teaching Geography and Culture through Food" at NCSS 2018!
The Middle East Outreach Council and Qatar Foundation International are pleased to co-sponsor a pre-conference clinic at the National Council for the Social Studies conference in Chicago, IL, on November 29, 2018. How do cuisine, cowboys, and calligraphy all connect in the pre-modern Middle East? Travel with us along pathways of pre-modern trade from Asia to Europe to America to find out!
This full-day off-site clinic will explore global connections across pre-modern Eurasia, North Africa, and the Americas by tracking a variety of goods and ideas and the influence among different societies each one illustrates. We’ll tell a story of interwoven cultures whose meetings result in a global tapestry of traded commodities and memes: raw materials and luxury goods, techniques and technologies, germs and innovative genius.
The day is designed to open educators’ eyes to the variety and impact of global trade across and beyond the “Islamic world.” We are all familiar with the Silk Road story, which tends to privilege the contributions of China to the West along the great land routes….but this dominant narrative (while exciting and engaging) misses much of the rich diversity of the trading networks. We will knit together a more complex narrative that includes commodities traded from west to east; innovations from across this vast regional network that built upon one another; the creation of new tastes and new markets; and a host of surprising examples of cultural transference that both teachers and students will discover tell, when knit together, a larger story of how cultures develop along the lines of contact, competition, and sometimes conflict.
There were many paths that connected Asia, the Middle East, the European “West,” and the Americas—but almost all trade passed through Muslim hands and Islamic lands on their way. The trade goods and memes we will examine include ceramics, books, and brocades; changing tastes in food, fashion and music—and the agricultural innovations, textiles and instruments upon which these new fads were based; and little-known dimensions of the Columbian exchange featuring the origins of cowboys, haciendas, and the Texas flag, among others. We’ll track these and more cultural elements and commodities back and forth across the Indian Ocean through the Mediterranean and across the Atlantic.
A refreshing antidote to the compartmentalization of history into strict regions and periods studied in isolation, this workshop demonstrates that by studying connections among cultures we can better understand both the significance and uniqueness of each culture’s social, political and economic organization/institutions and their place in a wider global context of change, trade and competition. The pedagogical richness and value of this presentation lies in the fact that rather than adding on a new set of material to overlay upon the already overburdened geographically- and chronologically-determined syllabus, we’ll present strategies and examples that give students questions to ask and linkages to consider in every historical time and place. Both teachers and students of world history and geography will gain new insight into the connections that provide every culture with the building blocks to grow and change.
Registration will be handled through NCSS.