Harvard Magazine Article Explores Global History Today

Followers of the Toynbee Prize Foundation’s activities will be interested to know that there’s an excellent in-depth feature article in Harvard Magazine–an independent journal founded by Crimson alumni–covering the state of global history today, at least through the lens of activities in Cambridge.

The piece covers the work of several global historians today: Sven Beckert and Charles S. Maier, co-directors of the Weatherhead Initiative on Global History at Harvard; Julia McClure, a historian of the early modern Atlantic space who was a post-doc at Harvard last year before beginning a new post-doctoral position at the European University Institute in Italy this year; Harvard professor Michael McCormick, a historian of the Middle Ages whose work has incorporated perspectives from soil science and epidemiology; and Sengalese historian Omar Gueye, professor at Cheikh Anta Diop University in Dakar.

“Historians increasingly recognize that trying to understand the past solely within the confines of national boundaries misses much of the story,” explains the piece.

Perhaps the integration of today’s world has fostered a renewed appreciation for global connections in the past. Historians now see that the same patterns—colonialism, or the rise of small elites controlling vast resources—emerge across cultures worldwide through time, and they are trying to explain why. “If there is one big meta-trend within history, it is this turn toward the global,” says [Sven Beckert]. “History looks very different if you don’t take a particular nation-state as the starting point of all your investigations.

Congratulations to the historians whose work is featured in the article!

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