Major Themes
Thèmes Principaux

1. Perspectives on global history: concepts and methodology
1. Mondialisation de l'histoire: concepts et méthodologie

Jörn Rüsen, Germany

The session combines theoretical and methodological issues with empirical ones. Categories like gender, laws, teleology etc. will be debated in respect to the theoretical necessity of disclosing and analyzing the realm of global history. The special problem of cultural differences in conceptualizing global history will be recognized. On the empirical level historical trends and factors of change will be analyzed and additionally the role of different cultures like China, India and the West in their interrelationship as places, subjects and objects of global history at the same time will be discussed. The presentations mainly treat early modern, modern and contemporary history. The session will lead to a new concept of global history in the era of critical revision of traditional master narratives and a growing emphasis of cultural difference and intercultural communication.

a) Is universal history possible?
a) Une histoire universelle est-elle possible?

Monday, 7 August, 9:00-12:00
Lundi 7 Août de 9h à 12h

Building B, Auditorium 1

Patrick O'Brien, United Kingdom


First discussant:
Alexander Chubariyan, Russia

Second discussant:
Jürgen Osterhammel, Switzerland

At the end of a millenium when international integration and the relative decline of Western hegemony dominate agendas for discussion in politics, economics, sociology and other social sciences, the time for historians to bring their expertise and perspectives into the now widespread intellectual discussion of global interdependence seems overdue.

History on the grand scale can, moreover, be popular. Wells, Toynbee and Spengler produced best sellers between the wars. McNeill, Stavrianos and Roberts (to mention but one well known trio) sell world histories to markets that excite the admiration of their colleagues bunkered in national archives.

Global history rests upon a tradition that goes back to Herodotus. It re-emerged when European history escaped from its Christian anchorage to flourish in the writings of Vico, Voltaire, Robertson and Smith during the Enlightenment. Thereafter, 'other' places and civilisations have continued to appear in historical writing but represented too often in European and North American mirrors.

The current resurgence of global history is not accidental but reflects economic, political and cultural anxieties about the rise, (or rather the re-emergence) of other continents to challenge the recent hegemony of European's.

A remarkable revival of world history is now underway and represents an exciting alternative to historical analysis focused on the experience of national communities and states. The International Congress of Historical Sciences in Oslo in the year 2000 offers historians a Thème Majeur designed to consider the findings of the renaissance in global history, to chart its progress, to consider its future and to explore connexions with: anthropology, archaeology, cultural studies, economics, evolutionary biology, geography, geology, international relations, literature, philosophy, politics, sociology and other disciplines. Our session is divided into two overlapping parts "Is universal history possible?" and part 2: "Cultural encounters between continents and over the centuries.


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Theme 3c
Théme 3c



Theme 1b
Théme 1b