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Graduate Candidates of GHC Review Books on Global History

1. Review of Navigating World History: Historians Create a Global Past,? by Patrick Manning

By Tian Jing

Published in Global History Review, vol.2, 2009, pp.227-237.

Abstract: Navigating World History is the first comprehensive overview of the academic field of world history. The audience for the book includes researchers, teachers, and general readers. Professor Patrick Manning is a world history veteran. He is Professor of History and African-American Studies at Northeastern University, where he directs the World History Center. He was actually the founder of Northeastern’s Ph.D. program in world history, which began in 1994 and is still one of the very few doctoral programs specializing in world history. Manning argues that world history is the study of interconnections between human societies and is significant today. Since Manning was director of Northeastern’s graduate program in world history, this book covers much of the historiographical and methodological territory and presents an overview and critique of world history as a field of scholarship and teaching. The book is divided into five parts.? The first three parts of the book provide an extremely detailed tour of world history. Part 1 defines the field of world history and describes its development; part 2 presents recent changes within history and neighboring disciplines that have contributed to the emergence of modern forms of world history; part 3 summarizes different themes, questions, approaches and debates in the field of word history. The last two chapters clarify the institutional and conceptual challenges that face the field today. part 4 surveys issues of word-history methodology, and part 5 discusses the institutional structures within which world history research and teaching take place. Manning raises in the book sharply the question, where is world history going, and he argues that the need is for more systematic development, through new programs of graduate study. World historians also need to find the essential questions and concepts that can give the field more intellectual coherence. He warns world historians against thought-habits from other disciplines. In addition, the book provides an extensive list of bibliography of over a thousand books. All in all, Navigating World History is a complete survey of the field as well as a pointer to future directions of world history scholarship.

 

 

2. The Reinterpretations of the Relationship between Self and Others: Reviews of Three Books

The Great Divergence: China, Europe, and the Making of the Modern World Economy by Kenneth Pomeranz (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001)

The Eastern Origins of Western Civilisation by John M. Hobson(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004)

The Shape of European History by William H. McNeill (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1974)

By Du Xianbing

Abstract:

In modern times, fields of history has always been dominated by national history. Historians belonging to different ethnic groups made great efforts to rationalize and historicize nation-state,which resulted the birth of many Imagined Communities and the partition of Self and Others. For a long time, social thinkers were looking for the key to the rise of the West under the European street light. Since the mid-20th century, new history emerged and gave tremendous impact on the traditional history in terms of epistemology and methodology.History works with unique ideas and new perspectives emerged in large numbers in the fresh air. The above three books are very representative.

In The Great Divergence: China, Europe, and the Making of the Modern World Economy, Kenneth Pomeranz places Self and Other on an equal footing. The book brings new insight to one of the classic questions of history: Why did sustained industrial growth begin in Northwest Europe, despite surprising similarities between advanced areas of Europe and East Asia? As Ken Pomeranz shows, as recently as 1750, parallels between these two parts of the world were very high in life expectancy, consumption, product and factor markets, and the strategies of households. argues that Europe’s nineteenth-century divergence from the Old World owes much to the fortunate location of coal, which substituted for timber. This made Europe’s failure to use its land intensively much less of a problem, while allowing growth in energy-intensive industries.

In The Eastern Origins of Western Civilisation, John Hobson challenges the ethnocentric bias of mainstream accounts of the Rise of the West. He argues that there were two processes that enabled the Rise of the Oriental West. First, each major developmental turning point in Europe was informed in large part by the assimilation of Eastern inventionswhich diffused from the more advanced East across the Eastern-led global economy between 500?C1800. Second, the construction of European identity after 1453 led to imperialism, through which Europeans appropriated many Eastern resources. As Martin Bernal said, the book does not merely provide a thoughtful response to recent Eurocentric world histories. It is also certain to play a central role in the new wave of studies demonstrating the substantial contributions to modern ‘civilisation’ made by so many non-European peoples.

Since the publication of The Rise of the West in 1963, William McNeill has been reflecting on Eurocentricism. The Shape of European History is a sweeping survey of the big picture of about three millenia of European history. In this book, McNeill observes that after World War I historians ceased to speak of European history as a chronicle of progress in the advance of reason and freedom, an idea embraced in the last decades of the 19th century. He notes, however, that though the central ideas of traditional European historiography ceased to be convincing, yet the stately structure raised at the close of the 19th century to accommodate European history still stands because it has been half forgotten and little examined. McNeill also criticizes the so-called ??scientific?? historical research and thinks constructively on ??cultural model??, ??the core of civilization?? and ??human creativity??.

In modern times, fields of history has always been dominated by national history. Historians belonging to different ethnic groups made great efforts to rationalize and historicize nation-state, which resulted the birth of many Imagined Communities and the partition of Self and Others. For a long time, social thinkers were looking for the key to the rise of the West under the European street light. Since the mid-20th century, new history emerged and gave tremendous impact on the traditional history in terms of epistemology and methodology.History works with unique ideas and new perspectives emerged in large numbers in the fresh air. The above three books are very representative.

In The Great Divergence: China, Europe, and the Making of the Modern World Economy, Kenneth Pomeranz places Self and Other on an equal footing. The book brings new insight to one of the classic questions of history: Why did sustained industrial growth begin in Northwest Europe, despite surprising similarities between advanced areas of Europe and East Asia? As Ken Pomeranz shows, as recently as 1750, parallels between these two parts of the world were very high in life expectancy, consumption, product and factor markets, and the strategies of households. argues that Europe’s nineteenth-century divergence from the Old World owes much to the fortunate location of coal, which substituted for timber. This made Europe’s failure to use its land intensively much less of a problem, while allowing growth in energy-intensive industries.

In The Eastern Origins of Western Civilisation, John Hobson challenges the ethnocentric bias of mainstream accounts of the Rise of the West. He argues that there were two processes that enabled the Rise of the Oriental West. First, each major developmental turning point in Europe was informed in large part by the assimilation of Eastern inventions which diffused from the more advanced East across the Eastern-led global economy between 500?C1800. Second, the construction of European identity after 1453 led to imperialism, through which Europeans appropriated many Eastern resources. As Martin Bernal said, the book does not merely provide a thoughtful response to recent Eurocentric world histories. It is also certain to play a central role in the new wave of studies demonstrating the substantial contributions to modern ‘civilisation’ made by so many non-European peoples.

Since the publication of The Rise of the West in 1963, William McNeill has been reflecting on Eurocentricism. The Shape of European History is a sweeping survey of the big picture of about three millenia of European history. In this book, McNeill observes that after World War I historians ceased to speak of European history as a chronicle of progress in the advance of reason and freedom, an idea embraced in the last decades of the 19th century. He notes, however, that though the central ideas of traditional European historiography ceased to be convincing, yet
the stately structure raised at the close of the 19th century to accommodate European history still stands because it has been half forgotten and little examined. McNeill also criticizes the so-called ??scientific?? historical research and thinks constructively on cultural model, the core of civilization and ??human creativity.

 

 

3. Review of?The Theft of History

By Wei Xiaoji

Published in Historiography Quarterly, vol. 3, 2011.

Abstrct: Jack Goody suggested in his The Theft of History that after the conceptualization of world history, Western scholars constructed the model for world history with concepts like freedom, equality, democracy, rule of law, individualism, mercantilism, market, feudalism and capitalism, all of which were asserted to be only the accomplishments of Western society, while the rest of the world lingered in a half-barbarian, half-rudimentary social status because of the missing of all these elements, and the true progress for them could only be achieved through the impact of Western idea and their adaption to that idea. This notion is conceived as their stealing of world history according to Jack. He believes that the elements asserted solo Western can be commonly found in non-Western cultures, too. Jack also criticized the viewpoints of certain renowned professionals, such as Joseph Needham, Norbert Elias and Fernand Braudel in his The Theft of History.
However, it is quite difficult to overlook the fact that the methodology adopted by Jack to criticize Western-centrism is rather monotonous and hardly persuasive. Here we face multiple dilemmas on the basis of his deduction: firstly, he denies diversity among non-Western societies (mostly oriental communities) and the West; secondly, he neglects the differences between ancient societies and modern societies; and thirdly, he does not respond to the question concerning why non-Western society??s being lagged behind during the last five centuries.
Jack??s dilemmas are confronted by so many of his fellow researchers who have been striving to eradicate Western-centrism. The crux of this problem is that most of these scholars have only been staying on the surface, without penetrating into the true essence of Western-centrism, which is, as I understand it, just a paraphrase of Modern-centrism. Modern-centrism is the conceptualization of modern elements like individualism, freedom, democracy, rule of law, science and capitalism based on Europeans?? historical experience in the previous five centuries, especially after the West??s industrial revolution, rising up and final dominating of the world. They argue that the origin and impetus for Western modernization only existed in the linear historical structure of Greece-Ancient Rome-Medieval Europe; and on the opposite side are despotism, servility, ignorance and lack of enlightenment of science. Therefore history of non-Western world has been separated and contradicted, before and after the Western cultural impact. Modern civilization is rooted in and originated from the West, whereas for the non-Western world, it could only be impacted upon. As for Jack, he struggled to find conceptualized modern elements in the history of non-Western world, but still used Western history as the benchmark, failing to narrate history of the rest of the world faithfully. May I argue that the most effective ways to eradicate Western-centrism be: 1) to re-think the concept of modernity, break away from the obsession over Enlightenment, and re-consider the rationality and realistic significance of the elements opposed to modernity (i.e. political traditions); 2) to emphasize the study of history of the non-Western world, Chinese history in particular.

 

 

4. Clash, Dialogue and Connections among Civilizations: the Idea of reading Huntington, Frank and McNeil's works

By Liu Chang

Abstract: In 1996, Samuel P. Huntington published The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order. Academic community reacted strongly to this book and caused extensive discussion of civilization. This article reviews Huntington’s civilization view, discussed Andre Gunder Frank and William H. McNeill’s views on the clash of civilizations and their civilization view.
Huntington was considered to be an advocate clash of civilizations. First, he stressed that different civilizations is contrariety, not integration, denied different civilizations influence each other in the development process , ignoring the great potential creative which is produced in the exchange with other civilizations. Second, he stood on the position of the West look at the clash of civilizations. Western and non-Western civilization is considered to be permanent opposition status. He believes that Western society is a civilized society. Huntington is not pleasant and peaceful attitude towards the development of non-Western civilization, and feels a deep anxiety for the Western civilization being challenged. He believes that Western values and institutions must be more highly unified and generally accepted, in order to continue to maintain the dominance of Western culture. Third, Huntington describes that the common cultural nations united, and in one of the most powerful civilization as the core countries leading competition with other different civilizations. This concept emphasizes different and confrontation between civilizations, leading to conflict and even war.
Frank focus on the role of economic trade and tried to get rid of Eurocentric, is a scholar with a global perspective. First, Frank refutes Huntington’s clash of civilizations, who says the most important among civilizations is not only conflict but also dialogue. Second, Frank believes that there is competition and conflict in dialogue among civilizations, clash of civilizations is part of the dialogue among civilizations, and he attributed the conflict to economic and trade factors. Third, Frank built a world-system, according to the economic and trade exchanges among civilizations perspective, and the existence of this system dates back to 3000 BC. He admitted that the core civilization, divided the world system into core, periphery and hinterland.
McNeill is world history school representative. He understood the concept of civilization, is conducive for world history studies. First, McNeil think that in international affairs the different models of civilization and religion has become increasingly important role. Second, the diversity of civilization is recognized and preserved. Interaction each other in a civilized society to be that makes the common development of mankind. Third, McNeil stressed that the interaction of civilization. Connections among civilizations are the process of interaction, including mutual influence, penetration, conflict and cooperation.

 

 

5. From the ecological point of view to explain European expansion??Review of Ecological Imperialism

By Liu Chang

Published in Global History Review, vol.4, 2011.

Abstract: Ecological Imperialism??The Biological Expansion of Europe, 900-1900 is written by Alfred W. Crosby, an American historian. He has been trying to use non-political, non-religious point of view to study and explain the rise and expansion in Europe, attention to the role of the ecological environment, special attention to infectious disease. Ecological Imperialism includes 12 chapters, these chapters seemingly scattered, in fact an association between chapters??and they common discusses the old continent ecological system gradually transform ??new Europe?? original ecological system. This book that is largely new European biological and social systems change can be attributed to the unstoppable breeding and spread of hybrid plant and animal. That is, the key to the success of European expansion is not their own have higher than the technical strength, but in ecological factors. Europeans brought animals plants and diseases from the old world, slowly changing the ecological system of the New Europe to the ecological environment are becoming increasingly close to Europe. This piece of land for the Europeans began to live, so a large number of Europeans to the new European immigrants. When the hand guns Europeans began their conquest, in fact the real war is over.
Ecological Imperialism is mainly the following four characteristics. First, the book is the most important feature is the emphasis on the historical development of ecological factors. This book is different from the traditional historical research focus on political, economic and cultural factors, but from an ecological perspective to analyze the rise and expansion in Europe, human as a part of the ecological, trying to put ecological and environmental factors into the scope of historical research. Second, the book has a world history perspective. This book covers the period spanning thousands of years, involving most of the world. This is reflected in the history of the world’s large-scale and long-time description of the method. Third, the authors used the cross-disciplinary research methods. Fourth, the book describes the large-scale and specific case studies together. On the one hand author used the perspective of the overall and contact to explain during the thousand years of European expansion. On the other hand, the book describes some typical case study areas, so that large-scale narrative is more reasonable and credible.
This book focuses on the historical development of ecological and environmental factors, and put ecological and environmental factors into the scope of historical research. It provides a new paradigm from the ecological point of view to explain the expansion of Europe. The rise of research in Europe is no longer just confined to the political, economic and cultural aspects, which can be more objective treatment of the formation of European superiority. This book has high practical significance, considering the current global ecological and environmental problems. The authors describe the ecological damage, loss of biodiversity, the decline of indigenous people, for today’s eco-environment of a warning, revealing the need for environmental protection.

 

 

6.Review The Shape of European History, written by William H. McNeill

By Tian Ruying

To be published in Global History Review, vol.4.

Abstract: The Shape of European History, written by William H. McNeill, is a book about European History. The book succinctly discusses the European history from ancient times to 1973 and brings forth new ideas. The theme that running through it is the importance of horizontal communication between civilizations, in other words, discussing the growth and spread of European civilization from the meeting of cultural patterns. Specifically, the main features of the book are as follows: First, he opposes the ??scientific?? history since Leopold von Ranke and James Harvey Robinson’s ??New History??, which led to the ??broken?? of historical research, and made people suspected the reliability of large systems and their weight in the academia. He advocated the global history of interconnection of civilizations. Second, he pointed out the limitations of ??the view of history of free development?? and proposed ??the theory of civilizations spread??. As for William H. McNeill, the development of European history is not entirely in line with ‘free growth’ mode. He believes in certain historical periods, every civilization has a central metropolitan center, and civilizations always spread from the metropolitan center to barbarian areas in all directions. Third, he emphasizes the important role of the technological innovation and the diffusion of technology in agriculture, commerce, navigation and nomadic life in European history. Finally, the book emphasizes the contacts of different areas of Europe and their roles in the development of European history, but neglects the internal developments of countries.