Author: Joes Segal 1
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  • 1 Department of History and Art History, Drift 10., NL – 3512 BS, Utrecht, The Netherlands
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Abstract

During the last two decades, historians and art historians have tested several strategies to turn their respective disciplines into world history and world art history. The principal questions that confront both disciplines are largely the same, but up till now there hasn't been much of a serious theoretical discussion between historians and art historians concerning the principles underlying the writing of world (art) history. This contribution sketches some recent developments within both discplines and tries to formulate common ground for a fruitful cross-disciplinary dialogue, taking into account the specificity of both disciplines.

  • 1. Palmer, R.R. & Colton, Joel, A History of the Modern World, New York 1952 [1]. The last edition (New York 2002 [9]) was co-authored by Lloyd Kramer.

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  • 2. Janson, Horst Waldemar, History of Art. A Survey of the Major Visual Arts from the Dawn of History to the Present Day, New York 1962 [1]. Janson died in 1982, later editions were published by his son Anthony F. Janson. The 2004 edition carries the title History of Art. The Western Tradition.

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  • 3. Elkins, James (ed.), Is Art History Global?, New York – London 2007, pp. 323.

  • 4. Honour, Hugh & Fleming, John, A World History of Art, London 2002 [6] (first edition 1982), pp. 1433.

  • 5. Stokstad, Marilyn (ed.), Art History, New York 2007 [3], first edition 1999.

  • 6. Summers, David, Real Spaces. World Art History and the Rise of Western Modernism, London – New York 2003.

  • 7. Belting, Hans, Bild-Anthropologie. Entwürfe für eine Bildwissenschaft, Munich 2001. See also Hans Belting & Lydia Haustein (Hg.), Das Erbe der Bilder. Kunst und moderne Medien in den Kulturen der Welt, Munich 1998 and Hans Belting & Dietmar Kamper (Hg.), Der zweite Blick. Bildgeschichte und Bildreflexion, Munich 2000.

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  • 8. See for instance Mirzoeff, Nicholas, An Introduction to Visual Culture, London-New York 1999.

  • 9. A more or less teleological view of world history, as exemplified by Francis Fukuyama in his The End of History and the Last Man, New York 1992, and world history based on insights derived from the natural sciences, such as Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steel. A Short History of Everybody for the Last 13,000 Years, London 1997, will not be discussed here since they are less relevant to my argument.

  • 10. Bentley, Jerry H., World History and Grand Narrative, In: Benedikt Stuchtey & Eckhardt Fuchs (eds.), Writing World History 1800–2000, Oxford 2003, pp. 4765.

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  • 11. McNeill, J.R. & McNeill, William H., The Human Web. A Bird's-Eye View of World History New York – London 2003.

  • 12. Weber, Max, Gesammelte Aufsätze zur Religionssoziologie I, Tübingen 1988, pp. 276512, on Confucianism and Taoism. See for the present discussion, among others: Bin Wong, Roy, China Transformed. Historical Change and the Limits of European Experience, Ithaca 1997; Landes, David, The Wealth and Poverty of Nations. Why Some are so Rich and Some so Poor, New York 1998; Frank, Andre Gunder, ReORIENT. Global Economy in the Asian Age, Berkeley 1998; and Pomeranz, Kenneth, The Great Divergence. China, Europe, and the Making of the Modern World Economy, Princeton 2000.

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  • 13. Environmental concerns inform Ponting, Clive, A Green History of the World, London 1991 and Diamond, Jared, Collapse. How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, Los Angeles 2005. Immanuel Wallerstein in his World-Systems Analysis. An Introduction, Durham-London 2004, presents historical evidence for his thesis that our capitalist world-system is about to collapse from internal contradictions, placing us at a historical crossroads. For a theoretical defence of present-based historical research on globalization, see Osterhammel, Jürgen & Petersson, Niels P., Geschichte der Globalisierung. Dimensionen, Prozesse, Epochen, Munich 2003.

  • 14. See for instance Gungwu, Wang (ed.), Global History and Migrations, Boulder 1997; Appadurai, Arjun, Modernity at Large. Cultural Dimensions of Globalization (Minneapolis 1996); Anthony D. King (ed.), Culture, Globalization and the World-System. Contemporary Conditions for the Representation of Identity, Minneapolis 1997.

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  • 15. Huntington, Samuel, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, London 1996. For that matter, Huntington emphasizes that this cultural identification is a characteristic of our times, not a universal fact. In this sense, he differs from early 20th century world historians like Oswald Spengler and Arnold Toynbee, who structured their narrative around the rise and fall of (separate) human civilizations.

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