A brief survey of the recent academic literature on global history reveals an academy that is still trying to define a historiographical movement.
Two decades ago Francis Fukuyama gained widespread attention, and some notoriety, with the argument that the modern world had reached the end of history. Of course, he did not mean that history as a flow of events would cease. What he did mean was that history as successive stages of society had reached its final level. There is no future regime beyond modern democracy and capitalism.
The Making of the Middle Class: Toward a Transnational History grew out of two panels on the middle class at the American Historical Association meetings in 2004 and a related conference at the University of Maryland in 2006. Taken together, the 16 papers and three commentaries included in this book have the feel of a big academic meeting.
Popular references to Calcutta (now Kolkata) – once the gleaming capital of British India – in Anglo-American contexts often conjure images of poverty, crowded city streets, unbearable traffic, smog, and residents that require a savior.
Serge Gruzinski compares Cortés’s actions in Mexico with suggestions for the invasion of China, adumbrated by Portuguese captives in Canton in 1522–3.
In Understanding the Imaginary War: Culture, Thought and Nuclear Conflict, 1945–90, Matthew Grant and Benjamin Ziemann present a collection of essays offering a new interpretation of the Cold War as an ‘imaginary war’.
In 1833, after centuries of resistance and rebellion by enslaved people, decades of popularly-mobilized antislavery protests, and years of economic struggle on colonial plantations, England’s Parliament initiated the process of slave emancipation in the British Empire.
Of all former government officials who have turned to the pen, Sir Rodric Braithwaite should arguably be considered one of the more welcome additions. Following three previous books focusing on the Soviet Union and Russia, he has recently turned his attention to the issue of nuclear weapons and the precarious deterrence which has kept them from being used in warfare since 1945.
Lee Grieveson’s bold historical analysis of the relationship between media and capital is nothing if not timely. As I write, a new wave of consolidation among traditional telecommunication and media companies in America is concentrating unprecedented wealth and power in the hands of an ever-narrowing elite.