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CFP: The UN and the Post-War Global Order: Dumbarton Oaks in Perspective after 70 years, SOAS, 17-18 May

H-Net Discussion Networks – CFP: The UN and the Post-War Global Order: Dumbarton Oaks in Perspective after 70 years, SOAS, 17-18 May. Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy, SOAS, University of London 17-18 May 2014 Two Day Colloquium: Keynote Presentation by Professor Tom Zeiler (University of Colorado) Author of “Unconditional Defeat – Japan, American and the End…

Sleuthing the Origins of “Global History”

History does not repeat itself. The historians repeat one another.

—Max Beerbohm, 1896.

Historians are often charged — sometimes correctly — with precipitously proclaiming a “new” field of study: a field that, upon further investigation, is shown to be remarkably similar to earlier turns in the historiographical timeline. The post-colonial and subaltern “turns” of the 1980s are cases in point, as they, however unwittingly, tended to ignore the prodigious and overlapping work within Area Studies that had appeared in preceding decades. I duly began to wonder if the term “global history” might prove to be yet another illustrative example.

Indeed, in recent months, historiographical debates have arisen at the New Global History Forum, the Imperial & Global Forum, and the New Republic, among others, over the promises and perils of the growing field of global history. Despite our disagreements, there was common consensus that “global history” was a relatively new historiographical phenomenon that arose in the 1990s — and one that rose in popularity in the early 2000s.[1]

But is “global history” really so new?

The Contexts of Global History

Historians care about context. When setting out to explore any historical question, professional historians want some familiarity with the customs, institutions, social structure, economic system, and ideas prominent in the relevant place and time. Indeed, much of the training for a career in historical research aims to provide a broad understanding of the region and era expected to be the context of future research. But does global history have a context?

It does, because global history, however uncommon it may be, is methodologically unexceptional. Even the most ambitious global histories operate within limitations, letting principal topic and central method set standards of relevance that allow limits, including chronological and geographical ones. Like all historical work, global histories establish their own rules of relevance. The more imaginative and original the work, the more likely it is to delineate its context from a cluster of questions that constitute historical problems. These, however, are then addressed with arguments based on kinds of evidence and methods of analysis familiar in historical research. Distinguished by its conceptual scale and sometimes by the historical problems it addresses, global history proceeds in normal fashion to establish the context it must engage.

Workshop: Exploring Traditions: Sources for a Global History of Science, Cambridge, 30 November 2013

Exploring Traditions: Sources for a Global History of Science University of Cambridge 30 November 2013 http://www.crassh.cam.ac.uk/events/25203 CRASSH, Alison Richard Building, 7 West Road, Cambridge CB3 9DT – SG1&2 This workshop is the second in a series that continues an important set of debates and reflexions on the interaction between histories of the sciences and models…

AHA Annual Meeting Affiliated Society Session, Toynbee Prize Foundation

The Intersections of Global and Diplomatic History Toynbee Prize Foundation Saturday, January 4, 2014: 11:30 AM-1:30 PM Calvert Room (Omni Shoreham) Chair: David Ekbladh, Tufts University Papers: Feminizing Diplomacy? Female Diplomats, the British Foreign Office, and Global Women’s Rights, 1930–80 Helen McCarthy, Queen Mary University of London Diplomacy in a Multilateralizing World: Changing Professional Norms and Practices in…

H-Net Review Publication: Wu on Gabaccia, 'Foreign Relations: American Immigration in Global Perspective'

Donna R. Gabaccia. Foreign Relations: American Immigration in Global Perspective. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2012. 288 pp. $29.95 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-691-13419-2. Reviewed by Judy T. Wu (Ohio State University) Published on H-Diplo (October, 2013) Commissioned by Seth Offenbach Immigrant Foreign Relations In Foreign Relations: American Immigration in Global Perspective, Donna R. Gabaccia offers a bold new interpretation that brings diplomatic history…

Empires, bureaucracies and religion arise from war

Computer simulation shows that conflict fueled political consolidation in ancient and medieval history. War drove the formation of complex social institutions such as religions and bureaucracies, a study suggests. The institutions would have helped to maintain stability in large and ethnically diverse early societies. The study authors, who tested their theories in simulations and compared…

Visiting Scholar in World History at Pitt, 2014-2014

Visiting Scholar, 2014-2015. The World History Center at the University of Pittsburgh (www.worldhistory.pitt.edu<http://www.worldhistory.pitt.edu>) solicits applications for the position of Visiting Scholar with PhD for the academic year 2014-2015. The successful applicant will spend up to four months in residence at the World History Center and will receive up to US$ 12,000 of support, as research…

Some Reflections on the Nature of Global History

During the 1990s, when the term “global history” started becoming more popular within academic circles, quite a number of scholars expressed great reservations against this field. One of the most frequently articulated charges was that global history was destined to operate on a rather superficial level and would not be able to reach deeper than the realm of textbooks, trade books and introductory undergraduate courses. After all, many critics added, no serious scholar could possibly know a sufficient number of languages which would allow him or her to operate at a truly global level. Hence, the same logic went, global history could never evolve into a true research field which in the field of history, after all, is based on archival work and an intimate familiarity with primary sources on a distinct subject matter ((See for example O’Brien, Patrick K., “Historiographical Traditions and Modern Imperatives for the Restoration of Global History”, Journal of Global History, 1-1 (2006), pp. 3-39)).

In recent years, these debates have subsided, and the new great discussions on global history have moved on to different issues and themes. It is mainly distant outsiders remaining unfamiliar with the field’s most recent developments and trajectories who still pose the question whether global history can indeed evolve into an area of research. As a matter of fact, global history is being practiced by a growing, vibrant community of researchers. For them it is not primarily as a site of textbook production but rather an arena of genuine historical scholarship. This simple observation is evidenced by the sharply growing number of journal articles, research projects and monographs which in their title refer to “global history” or closely related terms ((See for example, Crossley, Pamela Kyle, What is Global History?, Cambridge: Polity, 2008)). In this context one may also refer to the founding of the Journal of Global History in 2006, and one may add that even earlier, in 1999, the American Historical Review introduced a review section focusing on “global and comparative” studies.