Until very recently, historians have looked at the past with the tools of the nineteenth century. But globalization has fundamentally altered our ways of knowing, and it is no longer possible to study nations in isolation or to understand world history as emanating from the West. This book reveals why the discipline of global history has emerged as the most dynamic and innovative field in history—one that takes the connectedness of the world as its point of departure, and that poses a fundamental challenge to the premises and methods of history as we know it.
What Is Global History? provides a comprehensive overview of this exciting new approach to history. The book addresses some of the biggest questions the discipline will face in the twenty-first century: How does global history differ from other interpretations of world history? How do we write a global history that is not Eurocentric yet does not fall into the trap of creating new centrisms? How can historians compare different societies and establish compatibility across space? What are the politics of global history? This in-depth and accessible book also explores the limits of the new paradigm and even its dangers, the question of whom global history should be written for, and much more.
Written by a leading expert in the field, What Is Global History? shows how, by understanding the world's past as an integrated whole, historians can remap the terrain of their discipline for our globalized present.
Sebastian Conrad is professor of history at the Free University of Berlin. He is the author of German Colonialism: A Short History, Globalisation and the Nation in Imperial Germany, and The Quest for the Lost Nation: Writing History in Germany and Japan in the American Century.
"Conrad makes a case for global history as a self-consciously political and ethical enterprise through an enjoyable synthesis of what has to date been a diffuse, even incoherent field. A must read for anyone attempting to write or read global history."--Choice
"What Is Global History? is an important assessment of one of the most profound historiographical developments during the past few decades. It provides a timely introduction for newcomers, and fresh and fascinating perspectives to scholars already active in the field."--Dominic Sachsenmaier, author of Global Perspectives on Global History
"Conrad has written a lucid and cogent book on the emergent field of global history. He clarifies the differences between this field and world history, globalization, and big history, as well as the related but different approaches such as postcolonialism and world systems. It will go far to introduce systematicity and method in explorations that seek to grasp the complex historical relations between the local and the global."--Prasenjit Duara, author of The Crisis of Global Modernity: Asian Traditions and a Sustainable Future
"What Is Global History? is a remarkable feat. With admirable grace and concision, it takes stock of the meteoric rise of global history in the Americas, Europe, and Asia during the past two or three decades. At the same time, Sebastian Conrad is a systematic thinker and a theorist in his own right, identifying methodological problems of global history and suggesting his own well-considered solutions. No other book succeeds better in mapping the field and charting its future."--Jürgen Osterhammel, author of The Transformation of the World: A Global History of the Nineteenth Century
Table of Contents:
1 Introduction 1
2 A short history of thinking globally 17
3 Competing approaches 37
4 Global history as a distinct approach 62
5 Global history and forms of integration 90
6 Space in global history 115
7 Time in global history 141
8 Positionality and centered approaches 162
9 World-making and the concepts of global history 185
10 Global history for whom? The politics of global history 205