World History: How Can a Discipline Remain Relevant? Essay

World History: How Can a Discipline Remain Relevant? Essay

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“Historians are a contentious lot. While their arguments are usually conducted in polite language, the disputations are conducted on a number of fronts at once, and the frame of mind of the disputants ranges from a sporting pleasure with making point after point to a savage determination to win the day.” Although a sense of negativity creeps into this notion of Manning’s, a strengthening of world history can also emerge from this back and forth debate. World history will take shape as scholars push each other to clarify and defend ideas, while remaining skeptical and critical readers. This debate is key to avoiding either a stagnation of ideas or a dilution of possible new insights. As Manning asserts, “The exciting debates and the real advances in knowledge come when multiple scholars are working on related topics, testing their assumptions, data, and interpretations against each other’s.” As world history moves forward, as a discipline, historians would do well to keep this in mind. In addition to internal debate, a need to defend world history as a discipline is still necessary. A significant amount of work was done on defining and defending world history in the early to mid 1990’s. Any cursory look at the Journal of World History during this time period highlights this fact. In addition if you look to the May 1995 issue of History and Theory you see a thematic take on world history. As a result of this scholarship the discipline of world history gained momentum in academia, especially at the teaching level. Despite this trend, world history still finds itself defending its ideas. World history has yet to gain support from the elite universities and those that wish to pursue a PhD in world history have limi...


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...r than a series of airtight specialist monographs.” Only by engaging in the debate within and from outside of world history will the discipline continue to be relevant on both an academic and popular stage.



Works Cited

Duchesne, Ricardo. “Asia First?.” The Journal of the Historical Society 6, no. 1 (March
2006): 69-91.
Frank, Andre Gunder. ReOrient: Global Economy in the Asian Age. Berkeley: University
of California Press, 1998.
Hobson, John. “Explaining the Rise of the West: A Reply to Ricardo Duchesne.” The
Journal of the Historical Society 6, no. 4 (December 2006): 579-599.
Landes, David. The Wealth and Poverty of Nations: Why Some Are So Rich and Some So
Poor. New York: WW Norton and Company, 1999.
Manning, Patrick. Navigating World History: Historian Create a Global Past New York:
Palgrave/MacMillan, 2003.

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