Global Intellectual History

Global Intellectual History

Samuel Moyn
Andrew Sartori
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 352
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Global Intellectual History
    Book Description:

    Where do ideas fit into historical accounts that take an expansive, global view of human movements and events? Teaching scholars of intellectual history to incorporate transnational perspectives into their work, while also recommending how to confront the challenges and controversies that may arise, this original resource explains the concepts, concerns, practice, and promise of "global intellectual history," featuring essays by leading scholars on various approaches that are taking shape across the discipline.

    The contributors to Global Intellectual History explore the different ways in which one can think about the production, dissemination, and circulation of "global" ideas and ask whether global intellectual history can indeed produce legitimate narratives. They discuss how intellectuals and ideas fit within current conceptions of global frames and processes of globalization and proto-globalization, and they distinguish between ideas of the global and those of the transnational, identifying what each contributes to intellectual history. A crucial guide, this collection sets conceptual coordinates for readers eager to map an emerging area of study.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-53459-8
    Subjects: History, Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-IV)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. V-VI)
  3. Preface
    (pp. VII-X)
  4. Part I. A Framework for Debate
    • 1 Approaches to Global Intellectual History
      (pp. 3-30)

      Among the last decade’s most notable developments in the historians’ guild has been a turn toward “global history.” The roots of global history are older, in different tendencies in international history to strain beyond its usual diplomatic agents or in world history to make into approved topics the transnational flows of populations, diseases, and goods. But the citizens of the post–Cold War world, at least in some places, conceived of themselves as living in an age of “globalization” and pushed this trend to impressive heights.¹ The field of intellectual history, however, has lagged behind, although its objects of study—...

  5. Part II. Alternative Options
    • 2 Common Humanity and Cultural Difference on the Sedentary–Nomadic Frontier: Herodotus, Sima Qian, and Ibn Khaldun
      (pp. 33-58)

      This chapter examines concepts and discourses about common humanity and cultural difference in the writings of Herodotus (Greek world, fifth century b.c.e.), Sima Qian (Han China, around 100 b.c.e.), and Ibn Khaldun (Islamic North Africa, fourteenth century c.e.), focusing on their discussion of the interactions among the sedentary civilizations, to which they themselves belonged, and the nomadic peoples in the steppe and the desert.¹ This is not a random choice. The steppe peoples inhabited the great band of grasslands extending across Eurasia from the Ukraine to Manchuria. Another frontier traversed North Africa where the desert nomads confronted the sedentary civilization...

    • 3 Cosmopolitanism, Vernacularism, and Premodernity
      (pp. 59-80)

      The intensifying interactions today between local and translocal forms of culture and ways of political being, which have become truly global for the first time, have generated renewed scholarly interest in the idea of the “cosmopolitan.”¹ As many historians have recognized, the processes at work in contemporary globalization are not altogether unprecedented. But our understanding of what exactly is new and different about them, beyond the fact of their temporal speed and spatial reach, depends on our capacity to grasp the character of the earlier processes of globalization—of a smaller globe, to be sure—and the cosmopolitan identities that...

    • 4 Joseph Banks’s Intermediaries: Rethinking Global Cultural Exchange
      (pp. 81-109)

      This morn Tupia came on board, he had renewed his resolves of going with us to England, a circumstance which gives me much satisfaction. He is certainly a most proper man, well born, cheif Tahowa or preist of this Island, consequently skilld in the mysteries of their religion; but what makes him more than any thing else desireable is his experience in the navigation of these people and knowledge of the Islands in these seas; he has told us the names of above 70, the most of which he has himself been at. The Captn refuses to take him on...

    • 5 Global Intellectual History and the History of Political Economy
      (pp. 110-133)

      As Ann Stoler has observed, abstractions have been understood primarily as intrusions into the flux of the life-world:

      A convention in the study of colonial governance is to treat state bureaucracies as information-hungry machines, ambitiously taxonomic, bent on categorical claims about those social differences that mattered and those that did not. Scholars of the colonial have become deft at identifying the distance between these normative, imposed categories of social difference that so contrast with the more mobile social and intimate relations in which people lived.¹

      The critique of colonial knowledge and epistemic violence has turned on the suspicion of abstraction...

    • 6 Conceptual Universalization in the Transnational Nineteenth Century
      (pp. 134-158)

      The nascent discipline of global intellectual history must confront a fundamental question: What makes the global? What defines the scale and shape of this history’s globe, and is it dealing with one globe or several? Until it has resolved this problem of definition, global intellectual history is likely to remain a series of “big-frame” national histories—how intellectuals in one country grappled with ideas from elsewhere—or a collection of comparative studies that recapitulate national frames as they try to overcome them. We can begin to answer the question by investigating specific examples of concepts moving in the world (not...

    • 7 Globalizing the Intellectual History of the Idea of the “Muslim World”
      (pp. 159-186)

      In the scholarly writings on the global history of the last two hundred years, we see special attention given to universal and global values, such as the ideas of sovereignty, nationalism, national rights, international law, and human rights. Various agencies of the United Nations and different international associations function on the assumption that certain ideals, legal concepts, principles, and values have both global appeal and legitimacy. This recognition of the globality of certain norms raises the question of the origins of these values, which takes us to the debate about Eurocentrism. Most globally recognized values can be traced to European...

    • 8 On the Nonglobalization of Ideas
      (pp. 187-204)

      Suddenly, Haiti’s revolution has become a touchstone of contemporary thought, where a growing number of historians and theorists alike have alighted to right the wrong of narrative exclusion and to show that “Western” history has depended on subaltern actors to develop some of its own most cherished notions.¹ The events in question in what was then called Saint-Domingue—thanks to which slavery was ended during the French Revolution in an uprising that terrified some and inspired others forever after—deserve attention after a long period of neglect. Much is at stake in how those events are interpreted, especially how concepts...

    • 9 “Casting the Badge of Inferiority Beneath Black Peoples’ Feet”: Archiving and Reading the African Past, Present, and Future in World History
      (pp. 205-227)

      At the turn of the twentieth century, African and black writers were active participants in the international debates and controversies concerning modernity, its attributes, and its expressions.¹ Intellectuals such as W. E. B. DuBois, William Henry Ferris, and J. E. Casely Hayford were among the first generation of thinkers to seek a more inclusive understanding of universal narratives of the human past and experience. Deploying new universalizing narratives derived from Enlightenment and imperial discourses, they sought to establish connections among a diverse and widely dispersed black community and, at the same time, delineate a space for Africa in world history...

    • 10 Putting Global Intellectual History in Its Place
      (pp. 228-253)

      In this chapter I use India’s most controversial anti-colonial nationalist—Vinayak Damodar Savarkar (1883–1966)—to consider the contours of a new global intellectual history. Savarkar is the classic example of the early-twentieth-century revolutionary Indian nationalist who went to London to study law only to become seen by the metropolitan police as outside the law. Fairly early on, during his days in college, Savarkar came to be associated with the wing of Indian nationalism that colonial officials termed the “extremists.” His companions during the five years he spent in London were a motley group of like-minded revolutionary Indian students, all...

    • 11 Making and Taking Worlds
      (pp. 254-280)

      Exerting an almost shamanic aura, the adjective “global” routinely serves as a legitimating device for a vast array of contemporary practices and projects. A spatial reorientation is well under way across the human sciences, reshaping various fields and spawning innovative research agendas. In the disciplinary matrix of history, this is exemplified by the striking expansion of “global” history, while in political thought—my own main disciplinary home—it has led to an emerging discourse of “comparative political theory.”¹ Global intellectual history is a product of these interlacing trends. Have we reached a potential “threshold moment” in the study of the...

  6. Part III. Concluding Reflections
    • 12 How Global Do We Want Our Intellectual History to Be?
      (pp. 283-294)

      Samuel Moyn and Andrew Sartori have sufficient confidence in their way of doing global intellectual history to ask a known skeptic on the analytical usefulness of the concept of globalization to comment on their project.¹ I hope not to disappoint, in the sense of both underscoring the value of their effort to broaden the scope of intellectual history as commonly practiced and questioning the value added by the notion of “global.” Their introduction and the design of their collection focus on the most difficult question: What does it mean for historians interested in intellectual life to go global? They are...

    • 13 Global Intellectual History: Meanings and Methods
      (pp. 295-320)

      Two types of scholarly practice usually pass under the sign of intellectual history, although their cognitive purposes, methodological techniques, and intellectual direction are distinct. This has been a difficulty in the coherence of the discipline. Some historians want to understand how large intellectual ideas or trends cause the events that make history. Their object of epistemic interest is social history, in which they wish to assess the significance of the causal efficacy of ideals and intellectual processes. For a second group of scholars, the objects of analysis are the intellectual systems or processes themselves. The history they study is the...

  7. Contributors
    (pp. 321-324)
  8. Index
    (pp. 325-342)