Research topic: Global history

Global history is a term used to describe historical research that focuses in particular on aspects of the world that are uniform and unified.

Such an approach may be applied at many levels, from the study of various forms of globalisation to the investigation of how representatives of different cultures are met in specific, usually local, contexts. For all practical purposes, the term "global history" is today synonymous with "world history", but historically there are important distinctions between the two concepts.

Until the 1970s and 1980s, the term "world history" had two basic meanings for Western historians.  On the one hand it was a key teaching topic that addressed the expansion of Western political culture from its origins in ancient civilisations into other areas of the world – a process moreover that reflected the arrival in those areas of Europeans, while on the other hand it was a more philosophical historical discipline that addressed fundamental shared characteristics in the origin, development and decline of different cultures.

The concept "global history" entered the field of history as an alternative to both these traditions. The intention was to establish an empirically-based account of history that did not use Western culture and its ideals as a reference points but that was able to study the various regions of the world as equally important elements in an extremely lengthy process of globalisation. This would allow historians to contribute to major debates about globalisation as a key element in the political, economic and cultural development of our times.

 

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Published Feb. 5, 2013 2:29 PM - Last modified Oct. 7, 2013 8:47 PM