Architects of World History presents an innovative collection of original essays that introduce themes, characteristics, and scholars that are key to understanding contemporary approaches to the study of world history. Taking the form of intellectual biography, each chapter is written by an individual historian considered among the ‘architects’ of the field. The essays cover particular topics including environmental history, gender and world history, cultural interactions and colonialism, legal studies, “big history” among others. In each case the author introduces the theme, defining its parameters within world history, and exploring its potential future development. The essays also address the authors’ own intellectual trajectories, the encounters and motivations that inspired their development as a world historian. These personal narratives are both engaging and revealing, shedding light on the experiences of these pioneering scholars, and the particular challenges and possibilities of world history.
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About the Author
Kenneth R. Curtis is Professor of History at California State University, Long Beach. His most recent publication, co-authored with Valerie Hansen, is the second edition of Voyages in World History (2013).
The late Jerry H Bentley was Professor of History at the University of Hawaii and editor of the Journal of World History. He wrote written extensively on the cultural history of early modern Europe and on cross-cultural interactions in world history.
Table of Contents
Notes on Contributors vii
1 Architects of World History 1Kenneth R. Curtis
2 En Route to World Environmental History 30J.R. McNeill
3 Gender Intersections 56Merry E. Wiesner-Hanks
4 No Great Divergence? Reaching World History Through East Asian Studies 81Kenneth Pomeranz
5 Cultural and Religious Exchanges 108Dominic Sachsenmaier
6 Law and World History 134Lauren Benton
7 Africa in the World: From National Histories to Global Connections 159Kerry Ward
8 Big History 190David Christian
9 In Search of a Global Cultural History 215Jerry H. Bentley and Karen Louise Jolly, foreword by Alan Karras
What People are Saying About This
"This collection clearly frames the methodological andhistoriographical trajectories that give coherence to world historyas a field. The contributions from a wide range of scholarshumanize broad patterns of inquiry and provide a fresh, originalapproach. Architects is essential reading for scholars and teachersat all levels who want to grasp the history and scope of a dynamicfield."—Laura J. Mitchell, University of California,Irvine"The authors of these thoughtful and engaging autobiographicalessays show us that, like most historical change, world history asa modern intellectual and scholastic endeavor emerged not because agroup of innovators had a good plan but through an inchoate processof accident, contingency, and personal encounter. This is afascinating story of how nine distinguished historians,dissatisfied with the severe limits of nation-state history, foundtheir way, often serendipitously, to one another and to largernetworks of like-minded professionals. In the process they helpedestablish world history as a fertile field of research andteaching."—Ross Dunn, San Diego State University
"This is a stimulating collection, at once presenting leadingvoices in the field and some of the key topical approaches withinworld history. The goal of attracting and guiding students toward agreater sense of how world history is done is particularlyattractive."—Peter Stearns, George Mason University"Each of the authors is a genuine architect and visionary in thefield of world history. Collectively they provide a richintroduction to current approaches to teaching and research, whileat the same time unfolding their own personal and often remarkableintellectual journeys that brought them to the forefront of worldhistory."—Craig Benjamin, President of the World HistoryAssociation (2014 / 15)