Islamic & European Expansion: The Forging of a Global Order

Islamic & European Expansion: The Forging of a Global Order

Islamic & European Expansion: The Forging of a Global Order

Islamic & European Expansion: The Forging of a Global Order

Synopsis

This volume of essays makes available the essential background information and methods for effective teaching and writing on cross-cultural history. The contributors-some of the most distinguished writers of global and comparative history-chart the advances in understanding in their fields of concentration, revealing both specific findings and broad patterns that have emerged.The cover image, "The Arrival of the Dutch at Patane," from Theodore de Bry, India Orientals, Part VIII (Frankfurt: W. Richteri, 1607) depicts the two key phases of global history that are covered by the essays. Muslim inhabitants of the town of Patane on the Malayan peninsula warily confront a Dutch landing party whose bearing suggests that it is engaged in yet another episode in the saga of European overseas exploration and discovery. The presence of the Muslims in Malaya reflects an earlier process of expansion that saw Islamic civilization spread from Spain and Morocco in the west to the Philippines in the east in the millennium between the 7th and 17th centuries. The Dutch came by sea to an area on the coastal and island fringes of Asia, the one zone where their warships gave them a decisive edge in this era. The citizens of Patane had good reason to distrust the European intruders, since the Portuguese who had preceded the Dutch had used force whenever possible to control the formerly peaceful trade in the region and often to persecute Muslim Peoples. Author note: Michael Adas is Abraham Voorhees Professor of History at Rutgers University, New Brunswick. He is currently editor of the American Historical Association's series on Global and Comparative History and co-editor of the Cambridge University Press series on "Studies in Comparative World History." He has published numerous articles and books, including most recently (with Peter Stearns and Stuart Schwartz) World Civilization: The Global Experience (1992) and Turbulent Passage: A Global History of the Twentieth Century (1993).

Excerpt

Until the past two or three decades, world history has been a neglected and often disdained stepchild within the historical profession. Although of ancient lineage--Herodotus, after all, ranged across civilizations and aspired to a global perspective--world history had fallen on hard times by the late nineteenth century. The popularity that it had enjoyed in Western intellectual circles in the cosmopolitan and eclectic age of the Enlightenment, as perhaps best evidenced by Voltaire's grand survey of civilized development, was rapidly eroded by the late eighteenth-century revolutions and the growing importance of the nation-state. In the nineteenth century, national histories--often blatantly chauvinistic and usually informed by exceptionalist assumptions--were favored at the expense of general surveys of the human experience. These trends were reinforced by the concurrent professionalization of historical writing, which was grounded in an insistence on empiricism and the consequent use of primary data. History in the grand style, which ranged across centuries and civilizations and probed for general patterns, became suspect. It possessed neither the scientific attributes that national specialists claimed for their own work nor did it lend itself to the thick, narrative style that aspired, in Leopold von Ranke's often-quoted adage, to reconstruct the human past "wie es eigentlich gewesen."

Following World War I, largely precipitated by the great power rivalries represented in the national histories of the nineteenth century, world history enjoyed a brief revival. But the search for an encompassing teleology or underlying laws that informed the writings of Oswald Spengler and Arnold Toynbee, the leading exponents of world history in this period, was strongly resisted by the great majority of empirically minded area specialists who dominated the historical profession. Few read more than bowdlerized summaries of Spengler and Toynbee, and most were dubious about the feasibility or even the advisability of attempting to generalize across vast swaths of time and space. Among professional scholars at least, world history came to be seen as a pastime for dilettantes or popularists.

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