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I’m trying to study for my Social Science course and I need some help to understand this question.

Write an analytical essay of 1300 to 1600 words (about 5-7 pages depending on font etc, not including notes and works cited/bibliography, adjudged by word count) on one of the two following topics. The question you will need to take a position on is in boldface so it is easy to pick out. Be sure to have a clear and coherent thesis statement addressing the bolded question, and present a clearly organized case with in-text citations or foot/endnotes for everything that’s not directly from lecture. There are no necessarily right or wrong answers, only well-supported or poorly-supported ones. Yes, it’s perfectly all right to question the basis of our questions, so long as you demonstrate your knowledge and put it in terms of the prompt.

(Paper Two Prompts 01.pdf) attached file

  1. The reasons why states come together (or don’t) and hold together (or don’t) have been important to our course so far, especially as they intersect with wealth via trade networks. Considering the various polities we’ve seen and read about, would you agree with the idea that excessive wealth via trade networks was essential to the maintenance of all large states in sub-Saharan Africa, either directly or indirectly? If so, show how strategies to fight segmentation ultimately track back to that wealth, or how its loss was crippling; if not, identify other forces (or sources of wealth) by which a state could cohere. You must use at least four reasonably-spaced examples from weeks 4-6 (which makes Songhay available), and Ethiopia must be among them. Yes, areas with trade wealth but not large kingdoms or empires exist, and it needn’t be ‘all yes’ or ‘all no.’. Be sure to use observations from the readings of the travelers that suggest a link between material wealth and state power. This question is harder than it may appear; summaries won’t do. Keep in mind that the Swahili city-states and the Akan states each represent one ‘example.’


  1. We have introduced several new wrinkles to the question of cultural change—especially the adoption and adaptation of the “world religions” of Islam and Christianity—for the era before the early 16th Commodity trade had a complicated relationship with religious expansion, especially as concern socioeconomic class and geography within areas, but some trends may be visible. Do you agree that the position and/or dependency of an African state or society within a trade network determined the adoption (or non-adoption) of a world religion between about 800 (300 if Aksum) and 1500? You may reach back into our first few weeks and mention the early Sudanic kingdoms, but you must use evidence from at least three separate cases from weeks 4-6 to support your response, and at least one of those must involve a lack of religious spread. If you’re stumped on what we covered, see the added third page of the PDF which includes a list and some further explanation as to what the prompts accomplish (this applies to prompt 1 as well).

See the reverse (p2) of the PDF/sheet for a description of our rough grading brackets and other important notes, especially the requirement that you use the sources we have assigned in class and provide proper citations of all material. You may supplement, but not supplant, our shared sources; using even vetted Internet sources will not raise your grade, but if they take up space that could have been used for assigned material, they may harm it. This is a formal essay, but any style guide is all right to use provided that you are consistent and that you cite your text sources clearly and well (down to page numbers, please). Bear in mind too that the paper’s length is judged by word count using Microsoft Word’s built-in tool to count the main text, not notes or bibliography. If you fall short, the limitation in what you cover will be harmful enough. Going over the word limit is tolerated within reason (a max of about 10%) but exceeding that will bring a markdown of at least one full grade. Email either of us if you have questions.

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