Saturday, November 09, 2013

Turn, turn, turn

I'm still digesting this rather long, thoughtful essay by Princeton historian David A. Bell on the 'global turn' in history, but I thought I'd post it here both for your own edification and so that I can find it again when I have more time to consider it.

What is 'global history', you ask?


What social history was to the 1960s and 1970s, and cultural history to the 1980s and 1990s, global history has become in the first decades of the new century. Forty years ago, a young historian interested in the era of the American Revolution might have undertaken a dissertation on how independence affected daily life in small-town New England. Twenty years ago, she might have traced discourses of masculinity in the newspapers of the early republic. Today, a typical topic is more likely to involve the impact of “global” commodities such as tea and wine on American cities, or the role of foreign sailors on American merchant vessels, or the establishment of correspondence networks between slave-owners in the American South and the Caribbean. 

Everything in its place, I say.

But academia, like everything else, is prone to fashions. 

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