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Architects of World History: Researching the Global Past

ISBN: 978-1-118-29485-7
252 pages
April 2014, Wiley-Blackwell
Architects of World History: Researching the Global Past (1118294858) cover image


Architects of World History presents an innovative collection of original essays by leading scholars associated with World History, exploring through intellectual autobiography the ideas, challenges, and inspirations that are shaping the field

  • Features original, accessible contributions from pioneering scholars in the field
  • Offers insights into the process of developing a workable world history research topic and the experience of professional life as a world historian.
  • Points to methodological challenges; the scholar’s current research agenda in relation to the development of world history; and future directions anticipated for key areas within world history
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Table of Contents

Notes on Contributors vii

1 Architects of World History 1
Kenneth R. Curtis

2 En Route to World Environmental History 30
J.R. McNeill

3 Gender Intersections 56
Merry E. Wiesner-Hanks

4 No Great Divergence? Reaching World History Through East Asian Studies 81
Kenneth Pomeranz

5 Cultural and Religious Exchanges 108
Dominic Sachsenmaier

6 Law and World History 134
Lauren Benton

7 Africa in the World: From National Histories to Global Connections 159
Kerry Ward

8 Big History 190
David Christian

9 In Search of a Global Cultural History 215
Jerry H. Bentley and Karen Louise Jolly, foreword by Alan Karras

Index 238

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Author Information

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.

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"This collection clearly frames the methodological and historiographical trajectories that give coherence to world history as a field. The contributions from a wide range of scholars humanize broad patterns of inquiry and provide a fresh, original approach. Architects is essential reading for scholars and teachers at all levels who want to grasp the history and scope of a dynamic field."
—Laura J. Mitchell, University of California, Irvine

"The authors of these thoughtful and engaging autobiographical essays show us that, like most historical change, world history as a modern intellectual and scholastic endeavor emerged not because a group of innovators had a good plan but through an inchoate process of accident, contingency, and personal encounter. This is a fascinating story of how nine distinguished historians, dissatisfied with the severe limits of nation-state history, found their way, often serendipitously, to one another and to larger networks of like-minded professionals. In the process they helped establish world history as a fertile field of research and teaching."
—Ross Dunn, San Diego State University

"This is a stimulating collection, at once presenting leading voices in the field and some of the key topical approaches within world history. The goal of attracting and guiding students toward a greater sense of how world history is done is particularly attractive."
—Peter Stearns, George Mason University

"Each of the authors is a genuine architect and visionary in the field of world history.  Collectively they provide a rich introduction to current approaches to teaching and research, while at the same time unfolding their own personal and often remarkable intellectual journeys that brought them to the forefront of world history."
Craig Benjamin, President of the World History Association (2014 / 15)

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