If you're seeing this message, it means we're having trouble loading external resources on our website.

If you're behind a web filter, please make sure that the domains *.kastatic.org and *.kasandbox.org are unblocked.

Main content

BEFORE YOU WATCH: Rethinking Civilization

Use the “Three Close Reads” approach as you watch the video below.
Use the “Three Close Reads” approach as you watch the video below (next in the lineup!). If you want to learn more about this strategy, click here.

First read: preview and skimming for gist

Before you watch, you should skim the transcript first. The skim should be very quick and give you the gist (general idea) of what the video is about. You should be looking at the title, thumbnails, pictures, and first few seconds of the video for the gist.

Second read: key ideas and understanding content

Now that you’ve skimmed the video transcript and taken a quick peek at the video, you should preview the questions you will be answering. These questions will help you get a better understanding of the concepts and arguments that are presented in the video. Keep in mind that when you watch the video, it is a good idea to write down any vocab you read or hear that is unfamiliar to you.
By the end of the second close read, you should be able to answer the following questions:
  1. What do the earliest civilizations have in common? What does food have to do with civilization?
  2. People often use the term “civilized” to mean having a refined culture. Does John Green agree with this definition? If not, what does he think is a more historically accurate way to understand the concept of civilization?
  3. What do states have to do with barbarians? As people who live in states, what three things do we tend to assume about states?
  4. According to John Green, what two things are really important for the power of the state? What’s needed to make sure those two things can happen?
  5. What is James Scott's “big idea” about people who live in the hills? What other evidence – from other authors – does John Green present which may corroborate Scott’s idea?
  6. What are some benefits to life in the hills? What are some drawbacks?
  7. Where is Zomia and how many people live there? What’s unique about this region?
  8. What makes it difficult for historians to understand people living outside of states?

Third read: evaluating and corroborating

Finally, here are some questions that will help you focus on why this video matters and how it connects to other content you’ve studied.
At the end of the third read, you should be able to respond to these questions:
  1. Using evidence from the video and anything else you have learned in this Era, make a claim about whether it’s more advantageous to live outside a state, like people in Zomia, or within a state, like people in the United States or China. For whom might it be advantageous, and for whom might it pose problems? Provide specific reasons and use specific evidence to support your reasoning.
  2. How can evidence from this video help you think through the Era 3 Problem: what made life in cities and agrarian societies different from life in pastoral, nomadic communities or Neolithic villages?
Now that you know what to look for, it’s time to watch! Remember to return to these questions once you’ve finished watching.

Want to join the conversation?

  • blobby green style avatar for user ikirk19
    the cilvazation of types group are make history processes when the first civilizations several thousand years ago.
    (1 vote)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user
  • blobby green style avatar for user s1722270
    What do the earliest civilizations have in common? What does food have to do with civilization?
    (1 vote)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user