The Great War in World Historical Perspective

AHA Session 207
World History Association 3
Saturday, January 9, 2016: 2:30 PM-4:30 PM
Grand Hall C (Hyatt Regency Atlanta, Lower Level 2)
Frederick R. Dickinson, University of Pennsylvania
Craig A. Lockard, University of Wisconsin-Green Bay

Session Abstract

While the historiography of, and research into the First World War has “gone global” in the sense that it has moved to include actions and participants beyond Europe, both are relative strangers to the world historical approaches that have become increasingly common in the discipline of history since the late 20th Century. This panel, composed of established as well as aspiring scholars, offers examples designed to encourage the use of world historical methodology in both historiography and research into a war that, in 2016, will be mid-way through its centennial commemoration.  Jon Davidann examines several very recent works on the causes of the war, whose appearance may be attributed, at least in part, by those centennial commemorations.  He finds that, while there is a positive trend to examine that conflict in global perspective, patriotism and nationalism remains a significant factor in historical writing about the war.  Riccardo Altieri has found that the Great War in the Middle East, for both sides, was conducted along lines that had elements of both traditional and modern forms of warfare which he characterizes as “semi-modern,” a condition that influenced the war’s course and legacy in that region. Bartholomaeus Zielinski advances our knowledge of the result of the Western diplomatic machinations that accompanied the Great War by bringing events in the Pacific in late 1914 into an international and multi-archival perspective that offers a fresh interpretation of a neglected aspect of the war’s diplomatic history.  The fourth and final paper, by Marc Jason Gilbert, focuses on how India’s participation in the war, well known for its impact on India’s internal political affairs,  altered events beyond its frontiers with fateful effect on the post-war world order. The Chair of the panel, Frederick R. Dickinson, is an expert on the course and impact of the war in East Asia, lending the panel further breadth of knowledge on this subject.  It is worth noting that each of the presenters has in the past demonstrated a capacity to keep to time, insuring that though there will be four presentations, there will be plenty of opportunity for discussion of this subject by the designated discussant: the audience.

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