Writing Regional Histories in a Global World: Converging and Diverging Historiographical Networks

AHA Session 55
Friday, January 6, 2012: 9:30 AM-11:30 AM
Chicago Ballroom H (Chicago Marriott Downtown)
Ellen Carol DuBois, University of California, Los Angeles
The “New Qing History” and Chinese Response
Liping Wang, University of Minnesota
Doing the History of Childhood in Africa and the West
Corrie Decker, Universitiy of California, Davis
Stephen Tuck, Pembroke College, University of Oxford

Session Abstract

This panel addresses the question of how history is written in a global world in which different historiographical networks compete in order to influence the construction of the past. One of the goals of the panel is to explore the ways that people who do history from outside a country/region do it differently from (or similarly to) indigenous people. What biases shape scholarship of people who study their own society, and what demands condition the way scholars approach the history of "Others"? The panel will also address the extent of the American scholarly hegemony in world historiography: how far does political and economic hegemony extend into the field of scholarship? Finally, the panel will identify areas of convergence and divergence between different historiographical networks with a view to diagnose common interests that cross regional boundaries.

The panel brings together scholars of three very disparate geographical locales and historiographical traditions to examine these questions. The first paper uncovers the differing ways that three key themes in American history – democracy, growth, and expansion – are narrated by historians in Europe and the United States, and explores the differing comparative frames that are applied to US history in different locations. The second paper compares critiques of Orientalism and of Ottoman decline in Turkey and the US, revealing an unwitting convergence between cultural-political critiques of Orientalism in the US and Islamist critiques of modernization in Turkey. Finally, the third paper suggests that the development of a “new history” of the Qing dynasty (1644-1911) in U.S. scholarship was shaped by indigenous social and political concerns of Americans, and traces the reactions of Chinese scholars in China to the new issues and questions that scholarship raises.

Taken together, the papers reveal the complex ways that historical practice is shaped by an increasingly global historigraphical context.

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