Aspects of World History since 1945
Department of History
University of Ghana
J. Otto Pohl, Ph.D.
Office Number: 9
Meeting Time: Friday 3:30-5:25 Jones Quartey Building 09
This course is a survey course of world history since the end of World War II in 1945. It examines the history of the world from 1945 to 1991 in the context of the Cold War between the US and the USSR. The course will focus on the foreign policies of the US and USSR and their effect on other regions of the world. Among other events the course will cover the reconstruction of Europe after World War II, the Arab-Israeli wars, the Vietnam War, and the emergence of newly independent states in Africa. Within the Soviet – US conflict the course will pay special attention to the socialist emphasis on the collectivization of agriculture versus traditional forms of agriculture. The course will look at the extension of collectivized agriculture influenced by the Soviet model to the Baltic States and Western Ukraine, North Korea, and parts of Africa. The course will also deal extensively with the displacement of large numbers of people due to war and ethnic cleansing and the long term ramifications of such forced migration. In particular the course will look at forced migration in Europe and the Middle East. Other themes we will touch on are economic development, the emergence of international organizations, and the collapse of European colonialism in Asia and Africa.
The goal of this class is to give students a general frame work of the history of the conflict between the US and USSR and other major international events from 1945 to 1991. Students need to attend class regularly and do the assigned readings. Material from both the readings and the lectures will appear on the final exam. No mobile phones are to be visible during class. They are to be out of sight and turned off. Finally, I have a significant hearing loss and may have to ask people to repeat their questions or statements from time to time. You can minimize this by speaking loudly and clearly. This syllabus is tentative and subject to change.
The readings are taken mainly from two books. These books are Geoffry Hosking, The First Socialist Society: A History of the Soviet Union from Within, Second Enlarged Edition (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1993) and Martin Walker, The Cold War: A History (NY: Henry Holt and company, 1993). There are also a number of shorter readings, mostly journal articles. The instructor has copies of all the assigned readings and will make them available to the students. The shorter readings are listed below.
Chong Sik-Lee, “Land Reform, Collectivization and the Peasants in North Korea,” The China Quarterly, No. 14 (April-June 1963), pp. 65-81.
Esber, Rosemarie, “Rewriting the History of 1948: The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Question Revisited,” Holy Land Studies, vol. 4, no. 1 (2005), pp. 55-72).
Hayden, Robert M., “Schindler’s Fate: Genocide, Ethnic Cleansing, and Population Transfers,” Slavic Review, vol. 55, No. 4 (Winter 1996), pp. 727-748.
Khalidi, Rashid, “Observations on the Right of Return,” Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 21, No. 2 (Winter 1992), pp. 29-40.
Scott, James C., Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed (New Haven, CT and London: Yale University Press, 1998).
Statiev, Alexander, “Motivations and Goals of Soviet Deportations in the Western Borderlands,” The Journal of Strategic Studies, Vol. 28, No. 6 (December 2005), pp. 977-1003.
Ther, Philip, “The Integration of Expellees in Germany and Poland after World War II: A Historical Reassessment,” Slavic Review, Vol. 55, No. 4 (Winter 1996), pp. 779-805.
Grading: The grade for the class will be based upon a mid-term exam and a comprehensive final essay exam at the end of the semester. The mid-term will be worth 30% of the final grade and the final exam will constitute the remaining 70% of the grade.
Week one: Introduction and Review of Syllabus
Week two: The US and USSR after World War II and the Start of the Cold War
Read: Hosking, pp. 296-325; Statiev, pp. 977-1003; Walker, pp. 1-28
If possible this week I would like to show the movie Red Terror on the Amber Coast: Soviet Occupation – Lithuanian Resistance 1939-1993 since it covers much of the material in the Hosking and especially the Statiev.
Week three: Europe in the wake of World War II
Read: Hayden, pp. 727-748; Ther 779-805; Walker, pp. 28-58
Week four: Asia and the Middle East in the wake of World War II
Read: Chong Sik-Lee, pp. 65-81; Esber, pp. 55-72; Khalidi, pp. 29-40; Walker, pp. 59-82
Week five: The 1950s: Khrushchev vs. Eisenhower
Read: Hosking, pp. 326-362; Walker, pp. 83-135
Week six: Mid-term examination. The exam is worth 30% of the total grade.
Week seven: The 1960s: Cuba, Vietnam and other Conflict Zones
Read: Walker, pp. 136-206.
Week eight: The USSR during the Era of Stagnation
Read: Hosking, pp. 364-445.
Week nine: The Twilight of the Cold War
Read: Walker, pp. 207-277.
Week ten: “Socialism” and Development in Africa
Read: Scott, pp. 223-261.
Week eleven: The End of the Cold War
Read: Walker, pp. 278-357.
Week twelve: The End of the USSR
Read: Hosking, pp. 446-501.