Discovering How to Describe the World Then and Now: A Review Article

in Journal of Early Modern History
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The three books under review offer the opportunity to consider attempts to write the history of the wider world from the Renaissance to the present day. Although they are vastly different in focus: from a selection of travel narratives and histories; volumes from a multi-authored reference work to the study of a single street; what they all have in common is their comparative methodology and their extended engagement with non-European cultures. The review endorses Christopher Bayly’s contention that we are all global historians now, only some of us don’t know it. To misquote Benedetto Croce: ‘all history is contemporary (but also comparative) history’.

Discovering How to Describe the World Then and Now: A Review Article

in Journal of Early Modern History

References

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S. Subrahmanyam“Hearing Voices: Vignettes of Early Modernity in South Asia, 1400-1750,” Daedalus 127 (1998): 75-104 (quotation at 99-100).

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J. de Vries“The Industrial Revolution and the Industrious Revolution,” Journal of Economic History 54 (1994): 249-70.

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David Christian“The Return of Universal History,” History and Theorytheme issue 49 (2010): 6-27; Jo Guldi and David Armitage The History Manifesto (Cambridge 2014) also available on Open Access at: http://historymanifesto.cambridge.org. The latter has provoked considerable debate. For a useful starting point see: Deborah Cohen and Peter Mandler “ahr Exchange—The History Manifesto: a Critique” American Historical Review 120 (2015): 530-554.

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