Roundtable Writing Global Histories

AHA Session 30
Thursday, January 5, 2012: 3:00 PM-5:00 PM
Chicago Ballroom D (Chicago Marriott Downtown)
Charles C. Bright, University of Michigan
Global History and the Political Economy of Cotton
Sven Beckert, Harvard University
A Historiography of Global History
Michael Lang, University of Maine
The Global Politics of Civilization
Paul Kramer, Vanderbilt University
Population and Planetary History
Alison Bashford, University of Sydney

Session Abstract

Recent years have seen the self-conscious development of a field of "global history," for some an extension of "world history," for others a sharp alternative to it.  This roundtable will bring together historians who approach global history from a variety of directions, in hopes of illuminating recent and emerging developments and debates, and reflecting on the actual practice of global history.  Sven Beckert will draw on his research on the global history of cotton production, imperial power and labor regimes in the 19th century, approaching global history from the perspective a political-economic history of capitalism.  Michael Lang will assess the recent turn to global history through the lens of intellectual history, by critically evaluating three areas of contention: periodization, methodology, and temporality.  It will argue that a pressing question for global history concerns the world-historical status of modern historical thought itself.  Paul Kramer will reflect on the prospects for writing a political-cultural history of "civilization" as modern, global discourse.  Charles Bright, one of the pioneers of global-historical writing, will both chair and offer commentary.  The format of the panel will be a roundtable, with presenters delivering informal comments, followed by audience discussion.

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