Posted by: aboutalbion | April 24, 2012

The standing of World History

My understanding of globalisation is that it is the way in which every part of planet Earth is now entwined with every other part.  So if globalisation has this dominant influence in the economic sphere, then it might be expected that the standing of world history would be equally dominant.

 In a recent addition to my book shelves, Christopher Bayly discusses a reason why the narratives of nation states (and how they evolved) have not been displaced by an emerging perspective of world history as a ‘dispassionate master narrative’ (14).  He argues that European nations (that have had an empire) cling to national histories in order to showcase their great leaders, and the unique contribution they are thought to have made in the past and the continuing legacy which is thought to be attributed to them in the present.  He finds it natural for academic historians to respond to the demands of the market for ‘how we got here’ (15) books in the nation states where they work.

 Despite its modest standing at the moment, Bayly goes on to list several international challenges which he believes will lead to a re-evaluation of the perspective of world history.  He cites shortages of water, the destruction of forests, the likelihood of political conflict generated by scarcity (of say, food and oil), the globalisation of disease, and the expansion of population and the consequent probability of mass migrations in search of economic stability as challenges that cannot be avoided.  As nation states respond to these challenges, Bayly believes that their national (and regional) histories with need world history as a referent. (25)  As I see it, the viability of world history could well be linked with the viability of world government.

 Meanwhile, here I am reaching for an ancient national word, and calling my blog ‘about Albion’.  In doing this, I believe I am choosing ‘Albion’ simply as a way of indicating the geographical location from where my comments about world history are being made.

 [Bayly, Christopher (2011) ‘History and World History’, in Rublack, Ulinka (ed) A Concise Companion to History. Oxford: OUP, pp 3-25.]

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