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Quetzaltenango, Marrakesh, and Dunhuang

Sites of Encounter in World History K-12 Teacher Webinar

Quetzaltenango, Marrakesh, and Dunhuang

Jun 28-30: This free three-day teacher training virtual workshop will focus on sites in Asia, North America, and Africa to align with the CA History Social Science Framework.

Tuesday, June 28, 2022 - Thursday, June 30, 2022
9:30 AM - 1:30 PM (Pacific Time)
Registration Required

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Days of Instruction:
Tuesday, June 28 to Thursday, June 30, 2022
Time: 9:30am-1:30pm
Sessions will be held virtually via Zoom


This webinar aims to provide area studies content and pedagogy training to teachers in California to help with classroom instruction of the Sites of Encounter model for 6th and 7th grades under the CA History-Social Science Framework. The workshop will give K-12 educators an opportunity to hear lectures from scholars to gain more historical knowledge for these particular sites of encounter and receive training for designing lessons and curriculum to align with the HSS Framework. The workshop will feature three keynote lectures and model lessons from teacher leaders. There is also an opportunity for interested teachers to submit a lesson plan after the workshop to receive a $250 stipend. 

Eligibility & Requirements:

  • No cost and open to all K-12 teachers.
  • Teachers who wish to submit a lesson plan for the stipend can indicate their interest on the registration form.
  • Teachers must complete reading assignments and attend all three days for the entire duration of the workshop.
  • Teachers must fill out a survey evaluating the workshop at the end of Day 3.
  • Online registration required: https://ucla.in/3IT4CT8

June 28: Quetzaltenango, Guatemala
Floridalma Boj Lopez (UCLA)

In the highlands of Guatemala, nestled in a valley surrounded by ten mountains, Quetzaltenango, Guatemala has been a site of encounter since at least the 12th century to the 21st century. Quetzaltenango is still known by its ancestral Mam and K’iche’ name of XeLajuj Noj and was first a site of encounter between the Mam and K’iche’ people. By the time of the arrival of Spanish invaders, Quetzaltenango was a central place within the K’iche’ empire and it is where Tecún Umán confronted Pedro de Alvarado in battle. Since this initial invasion Xela (as it is colloquially known) has remained an important site of rebellion, Indigenous power, an economic trading hub, and a site of cultural production. This workshop will explore how Xela is unique among Maya places and how collectives today continue to define its significance in the world.

June 29: Marrakesh, Morocco
 Allen James Fromherz (Georgia State University)

The red city, the gateway to the Saharan Desert, the city in the shadow of the High Atlas Mountain, the city of the twelve saints, the city of the veiled men of the desert: Marrakech is a city nestled in-between extremes of geography, of faith and of history.  Marrakech was founded twice. It was founded first in the second half of the eleventh century (there is a dispute on the exact dates in the sources, many scholars agree on 1062 CE) as an exclusive, holy city by the pious, recent converts to Maliki Islam, the Almoravids Berbers who inhabited the desert. It was then and then refounded and conquered by the Almohad, equally pious Berbers of the Mountains in 1148, becoming their capital in North Africa, the capital of the first empire that spanned across and within the Atlas Mountains, that great natural fortress (even the Romans could only hold some cities and the coast). After each attempt to create an exclusive city, however, the people of Marrakech and the forces of economic opportunity and political change quickly threw off this exclusivity, transforming into a vibrant commercial city of cultural encounter and diversity, a place where Franciscan monks and catholic bishops and Christian mercenary knights rubbed shoulders with Sufi Muslim Mystics, where Jews in the Mellah (Jewish Quarter) conducted trade with Berbers on their way across the Sahara or the Atlas Mountains. After the end of the Almohad empire, Marrakech became a secondary city, as the capital moved to Fez and the Marinids, famous for their influence on Granada. Eventually, however, Marrakech regained her stature under the Saadians and 'Alawi who claimed descent from the prophet Muhammad and built magnificent palaces within its red walls. During the French Protectorate, a mercurial local Berber ruler, the Thami el Glaoui, son of a slave, was kept as Pasha of Marrakech by the French, a part of their policy of divide and rule between Arabs and Berbers. The 'Alwai, as rulers of the independent Kingdom of Morocco, have since regained control, but the French protectorate left its mark as yet another layer In the deep strata of Marrakech's history. The diversity of Marrakech is alive today in the Jamaa al Fna, the great plaza at the entrance of the Madina (the historic core) filled with snake charmers, cross-dressing dancers, Berber and Arabic story tellers and palm readers, a whole society and culture of that emerges every night with the smoke rising from kebaab stands at sunset. In the 21st century, historic preservation and skyrocketing real estate prices have made the warren of exclusive riyadhs, courtyard gardens, hammams a global city, a place where both Moroccans and non-Moroccans, Muslims and Non-Muslims rub shoulders as they did in the 12th century. This workshop will explore the history of cultural encounters in Marrakech. 


June 30: The Silk Road Oasis of Dunhuang
Speaker: Diego Loukota (UCLA)

Nested at the heart of the Silk Road, the oasis of Dunhuang in western China, known as Throana to the Greeks and Romans, was a hub of world commerce and travel before maritime trade was to take over in the second millennium CE, reaching its zenith during the powerful Tang and Song dynasties of China. Merchants, diplomats, pilgrims, and monastics from all over premodern Eurasia converged in this lively town in the middle of the Gobi desert. The wealth of the city was invested in the creation of hundreds of lavishly frescoed, rock-cut Buddhist shrines, Buddhism being the dominant religion in the city and an important node in its spread to eastern Asia. Possibly in the prelude to a foreign invasion, and fearing mass destruction, the inhabitants of the town decided to collect all the sacred books they could find and sealed them inside a shrine for protection. The shrine remained unnoticed and unopened until the early 20th century. Luckily for us, the haste must have led the book collectors to be less selective than they wished to: besides sacred texts, they included also thousands of other documents—music scores, dictionaries, personal letters, divination books—that give us a unique window into everyday life in this place of intense cultural contact.

Sponsor(s): Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Center for Near Eastern Studies, Asia Pacific Center, African Studies Center, Latin American Institute, UCLA History-Geography Project