Global History

The reasons behind the renaissance in global history are familiar. The means and the media of modern transportation and communication have opened up discourses (in English) around and about the world that are re-shaping identities and transforming behaviour, especially among younger generations. Students arrive at universities more curious about 'other' cultures and are now less easily persuaded to feed on diets of national or western histories.

Alas, academe is not constituted to offer the long run, geographically unbounded and ecologically informed access to properly processed historical knowledge that could satisfy their ecumenical interests and nourish a truly cosmopolitan sensitivity for the 21st century. Clearly the chronologies, confined preoccupations and spatial parameters with which national histories have traditionally been delivered are ready for reform.

To be recognized as contemporary syllabuses could make space within higher education (in both history and the social sciences) that will analyse major environmental, economic and geopolitical forces at work in the evolution of humanity as a whole; and thereby offer a prospectus that might avoid the condescension of cultures, the myopia of fore-shortened time spans and the arrogance of nations, implicit in dominant styles of writing, studying and communicating historical knowledge.

Although this new field is now developing everywhere, most of the academics involved are scattered in departments around the world and continue to operate as recognized specialists on European, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, African and South American studies.

As aspirant global historians they are aware of gaps in the published literature, the absences of calibrated data to facilitate comparisons of economic trends across continents and centuries, and acutely conscious of the methodological, epistemological and pedagogic problems they have encountered in attempting to persuade colleagues, students and university administrations that the field is not only contemporary, but can be constructed and communicated at intellectual levels, comparable to those attained in research and teaching on the economic histories of America, Europe, the United Kingdom and Japan.