Non-Western and Comparative Studies

Last updated: June 28, 2012 at 4:13 p.m.


The non-Western and comparative studies requirement is designed to encourage students to explore societies, cultures and experiences beyond those of the Western tradition. The common goal of the courses in the program is to acquaint students with world views, indigenous intellectual traditions, historical narratives and social institutions that have developed largely outside European society and its North American transplants.

By examining some particular culture, society or region of the non-Western world (such as those of Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Latin America and Oceania), or by systematically comparing a range of values and institutions across cultural boundaries, students will be able to broaden their understanding of human achievements and potentialities beyond the Western heritage. As the world becomes increasingly interconnected, and at the same time more diverse, such an understanding is all the more necessary.

Through the study of non-Western societies in their original settings, it is expected that students will also gain a better understanding of minority groups and diasporic cultures (such as African-American, Latino, Asian and Muslim) in the United States and the West in general. Non-Western courses expand students’ horizons and help them better understand their own history and culture. 

Courses that satisfy the requirement may have Western components or modes of analysis, but their primary purpose is to foster an understanding of non-Western cultures, experiences and perspectives. For example, in a course on the political economy of Africa that employs Western methodologies, the history and culture of Africa still occupy a central place. The program draws attention to the intellectual and methodological problems inherent in the study of cultural systems other than those of the West.  

Courses of Instruction

AAAS 18b
Africa and the West

AAAS 60a
Economics of Third World Hunger

AAAS 80a
Economy and Society in Africa

AAAS 85a
Survey of Southern African History

AAAS 115a
Introduction to African History

AAAS 122a
Politics of Southern Africa

AAAS 123a
Third World Ideologies

AAAS 126b
Political Economy of the Third World

AAAS 132b
Introduction to African Literature

AAAS 133b
The Literature of the Caribbean

AAAS 134b
Novel and Film of the African Diaspora

AAAS 157b
Neglected Diasporas

AAAS 158a
Theories of Development and Underdevelopment

AAAS 163b
Africa in World Politics

AAAS 175a
Comparative Politics of North Africa

Introduction to the Comparative Study of Human Societies

ANTH 55a
Anthropology of Development

ANTH 63a
Non-Western Musical Traditions

ANTH 80a
Anthropology of Religion

ANTH 105a
Myth and Ritual

ANTH 111a
Aging in Cross-Cultural Perspective

ANTH 112a
African Art and Aesthetics

ANTH 119a
Conquests, Resistance, and Cultural Transformation in Mexico and Central America

ANTH 127a
Medicine, Body, and Culture

ANTH 133a
Culture and Power in Africa

ANTH 134a
South Asian Culture and Society

ANTH 136a
Archaeology of Power: Authority, Prestige, and Inequality in the Past

ANTH 144a
The Anthropology of Gender

ANTH 147b
The Rise of Mesoamerican Civilization

ANTH 153a
Writing Systems and Scribal Traditions

ANTH 156a
Power and Violence: The Anthropology of Political Systems

ANTH 163b
Production, Consumption, and Exchange

ANTH 168a
The Maya: Past, Present and Future

ANTH 178b
Culture and Power in East Asia

ANTH 184b
Cross-Cultural Art and Aesthetics

CHIN 100a
Introduction to Chinese Literature: Poetry, Romance, and Fiction

CHIN 130b
China on Film: The Changes of Chinese Culture

CHIN 140a
Yin Yu Tang Documents, Decoding the Late Qing and Early Republic Writings (I)

CLAS 135a
The Silk Road: China Looks West, the Mediterranean Looks East

CLAS/FA 186a
The Art and Archaeology of Korea

COML 122b
Writing Home and Abroad: Literature by Women of Color

COML 146b
Classical East Asian Poetics

COML 165a
Reading, Writing, and Teaching across Cultures

COML 166b
Literacy, Language and Culture

ECON 26a
Latin America's Economy

ECON 30a
The Economy of China

ECON 122b
The Economics of the Middle East

ECON 176a
The Household, Health, and Hunger in Developing Countries

ENG 20a
Bollywood: Popular Film, Genre, and Society

ENG 22a
Filmi Fictions: From Page to Screen in India

ENG 77a
Screening the Tropics

ENG 77b
Literatures of Global English

ENG 117a
Salman Rushdie

ENG 127a
The Novel in India

ENG 128b
Postcolonial Epidemics

ENG 167a
Decolonizing Fictions

FA 33b
Islamic Art and Architecture

FA 34a
History of Asian Art

FA 70b
The Art of China

FA 71b
The Art of Japan

FA 77b
Twentieth-Century and Contemporary Latin American Art

FA 79a
Modernism Elsewhere

FA 170a
Arts of the Ming Dynasty

FA 171b
Buddhist Art

FA 178a
Frida Kahlo: Art, Life and Legacy

FA 197a
Studies in Asian Art

FREN 164a
Haiti, Then and Now

FREN 165b
Subsaharan Africa and the French Language

HISP 111b
Introduction to Latin American Literature and Culture

HISP 160a
Culture and Social Change in Latin America

HISP 161b
Reality Effects: From the Realist Novel to the Reality Show

HISP 163a
The Latin American Boom and Beyond

HISP 164b
Studies in Latin American Literature

HISP 165b
The Storyteller: Short Fiction in Latin America

HISP 167b
Colonial Imaginaries and Postcolonial Fictions in the Americas

HISP 192b
Latin American Global Film

HISP 194b
Borderland Literature and Visual Culture in Latin America and the United States

HIST 56b
World History to 1960

HIST 71a
Empire and Its Discontents: Latin America from Conquest to Independence

HIST 71b
Latin American History, 1870 to the Present

HIST 80a
Introduction to East Asian Civilization

HIST 80b
East Asia: Nineteenth Century to the Present (China and Japan)

HIST 111a
History of the Modern Middle East

HIST 111b
The Iranian Revolution: From Monarchy to the Islamic Republic

HIST 112a
Nationalism in the Middle East

HIST 116a
Black Homeland: West Africa

HIST 148b
Central Asia in Modern Times

HIST 173b
Latin American Women: Heroines, Icons, and History

HIST 174a
The Legacy of 1898: U.S.-Caribbean Relations since the Spanish-American War

HIST 175a
Topics in Latin American History

HIST 176a
The Emergence of Modern Japan

HIST 176b
Japan and Korea in Modern World History

HIST 178a
Middle Eastern Encounters in the Age of Colonialism

HIST 182b
Modern China

HIST 183a
Empire at the Margins: Borderlands in Late Imperial China

HIST 184a
Silk, Silver, and Slaves: China and the Industrial Revolution

HIST 184b
Swashbuckling Adventurers or Sea bandits? The Chinese Pirate in Global Perspective

IGS/SAS 150a
The Rise of India

IMES 104a
Islam: Civilization and Institutions

IMES 105a
War and Revolution in the Middle East

JAPN 120a
Readings in Contemporary Japanese Literature

JAPN 120b
Readings in Modern Japanese Literature

JAPN 125b
Putting Away Childish Things: Coming of Age in Modern Japanese Literature and Film

JAPN 130a
The Literature of Multicultural Japan

JAPN 135a
Screening National Images: Japanese Film and Anime in Global Context

JAPN 140a
The World of Early Modern Japanese Literature

JAPN 145a
The World of Classical Japanese Literature

LGLS 124b
International Law and Development

MUS 3b
Introduction to World Musics

MUS 4a
Introduction to Chinese Music

MUS 27b
Music and Ecstasy

NEJS 113b
Law in the Bible and the Ancient Near East

NEJS 116a
Ancient Near Eastern Religion and Mythology

NEJS 122a
Magic and Witchcraft in the Ancient Near East

NEJS 144a
Jews in the World of Islam

NEJS 185b
The Making of the Modern Middle East

NEJS 186a
Introduction to the Qur'an

NEJS 187a
Political Islam

NEJS 188a
The Rise and Decline of the Ottoman Empire, 1300-1800

NEJS 188b
The Destruction of the Ottoman Empire, 1800-1923

NEJS 193a
Societies in Conflict: Exploring the Middle East through Authentic Materials

NEJS 194b
Sufi Teachings

NEJS 196a
Marriage, Divorce, and Sexual Ethics in Islamic Law

NEJS 196b
The Middle Eastern City: Intersections of Art, Literature and History

NEJS 197b
Political Cultures of the Middle East

POL 128a
The Politics of Revolution: State Violence and Popular Insurgency in the Third World

POL 133a
Contemporary Politics in the Middle East

POL 144a
Latin American Politics I

POL 144b
Latin American Politics II

POL 146b
Seminar: Topics in Revolutions in the Third World

POL 147a
The Government and Politics of China

POL 147b
Seminar: The Modern Chinese Revolution

POL 148a
Seminar: Contemporary Chinese Politics

POL 150a
Politics of Southeast Asia

POL 180b
Sustaining Development

REL 107a
Introduction to World Religions

REL 151a
The Buddha: His Life and Teachings

REL 161a
Chinese Religion and Thought: Understanding Confucianism and Daoism (Taoism)

REL/SAS 152a
Introduction to Hinduism

SAS 100a
Introduction to South Asia

SAS 101a
South Asian Women Writers

SAS 110b
South Asian Postcolonial Writers

SAS 130a
Film and Fiction of Crisis

SAS 150b
Indian Film: The Three-Hour Dream

SOC 127a
Gods and Nations: Identity in Global Politics

THA 130a

WMGS 141a
Gender in Iranian Cinema