Course DescriptionFrom the moment we humans abandoned the hunter-gatherer’s roving life and devised civilization, exchanging mobility for stability and prosperity,
we’ve faced the same unending problem: no matter where you set down roots, something will be lacking. Every society wants for some resource
found far away — a necessity like wood or a luxury like porcelain; and the more complex, powerful, and proud a society, the more they yearn for
that which they do not have. How do the world’s societies slake these needs? And what is the relationship between trade, or acquiring distant
resources — and empire, asserting control over them? Is the intrepid adventurer beating a path to Samarkand to acquire their silks or to San
Salvador in search of gold the handmaiden—or rival?—to the next generation’s conqueror of the same lands and riches?
In this course we’ll explore
the most interesting and illuminating of humanity’s quests and competitions for control of distant resources, toward a greater understanding of what
we do as nations when we want what we do not have.