The Global Reach of Cities

AHA Session 151
World History Association 6
Sunday, January 5, 2020: 8:30 AM-10:00 AM
Trianon Ballroom (New York Hilton, Third Floor)
Merry E. Wiesner-Hanks, University of WisconsinMilwaukee
Carl H. Nightingale, State University of New York, University at Buffalo
Nancy H. Kwak, University of California, San Diego
Mariana L. Dantas, Ohio University
James H. Carter, Saint Joseph's University

Session Abstract

Despite long recognition of the key role of cities throughout the world and across time, urban history and world/global history have developed as largely separate research fields. Research in what we now call “global urban history” has expanded in the last ten years, however, giving rise to specialized panels, collections of essays, research networks, a blog, and most recently the Global Urban History Project (GUHP), a network of scholars interested in exploring the connections between global history and urban history. Seeking to deepen the relationship between urban history and global/world history, GUHP and the World History Association (WHA) held a joint conference in June 2019 in San Juan, Puerto Rico, which attracted scholars working on cities outside the North American and European foci of the major professional associations devoted to urban history, and allowed world/global history scholars the opportunity to think about urban aspects of their field.

Members of this roundtable will assess the intersection of urban history and world/global history, discussing its effects on both of the broader fields it aims to touch and maybe also its potential to reach interdisciplinary realms beyond, such as urban studies and global studies. Fundamental questions about all these fields are at stake. How have the very longest and largest realms of history affected smaller concentrated places known for their dense and highly contingent dynamics? How should we think about the generative power of cities, long credited as the cradles of “history” itself? Is it too audacious to call cities amplifiers of human action or even manufactories of the global? How do we research questions like these? Does historical context suggest correctives to presentist theories such as “global cities” or “planetary urbanization”? Panel presenters will reflect on the state of this important interchange with reference to their own work.

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