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Introduction, Abstracts, and Bios:


            Organized by the American Historical Association, the World History Association, the Middle East Studies Association, the African Studies Association, the Latin American Studies Association, the Conference on Latin American History, the Association for Asian Studies, the Community College Humanities Association, and the Library of Congress, this conference aims to go beyond traditional area studies and to cross the usual national, geographical, and cultural boundary lines of scholarship by taking explicitly comparative, crosscultural, systematic, global, or other appropriate approaches.  A major purpose is to explore contemporary globalization in historical context and the historical processes that drive globalization, as well as the way in which the current dialectic of globalization and fragmentation affects the definition of areas and regions.

            Each of the three conference days will focus on a particular rubric.  Day One: movement of peoples, ideas, and goods; material interactions and their sites.  Day Two: Networks and connections beyond the nation-state.  Day Three: Reconfigurations of "area" and "state," their implications and interactions.

Abstracts and Bios

The Role of Central Asians in the Spread of World Religions, ca. 200 BCE-1000 CE
Richard Foltz, Columbia University

            For over a thousand years the prime actors in the transmission of the worlds major religions from the Mediterranean to China were the people of Transoxiana (roughly modern Uzbekistan).  Situated halfway between the Near Eastern and Far Eastern centers of civilization, the natives of this region, Iranian-speakers known as Sogdians, were ideally situated to be middlemen.  Sogdian merchants were for centuries among the most successful in Asia, and their trading activities formed the major link connecting East and West.  The Sogdians were purveyors not only of goods, but of culture in general, borrowing ideas and traditions from one civilization and transmitting them to another.  In the centuries before the common era Buddhism took hold amongst the Bactrians, another Iranian people living to the northwest of India.  Sogdians living or trading in Bactria adopted Buddhism and carried its teachings throughout their trading colonies all along the Silk Route as far as China.  Later Sogdians became enthusiastic converts to Manichaeism or Nestorian Christianity, and became the representatives of these faiths within their string of communities across the Asian interior.  With their international connections Sogdians knew foreign languages, and many were literate. They were often engaged as interpreters and translators.  It was Sogdian scribes who translated most of the religious texts of Buddhism, Manichaeism, and Christianity into the various languages of the Silk Route, from Prakrit, Aramaic, or Parthian into Bactrian, Tokharian, Khotanese, Turkish or Chinese, either via Sogdian or directly.  As Central Asia became Islamicized beginning in the eighth century, the Sogdians gradually adopted the Persian language and Iranian Islam.  Within two centuries Transoxiana indeed became the center of the Persian cultural world under the Samanid dynasty; Rudaki, Farabi, Khwarazmi, and Avicenna are just a few of the Central Asians who stand out in medieval Islam.

            This paper will discuss how and why the Iranian peoples of Central Asia played such a major role in the transmission of religions from the Near East to the Far East throughout the first millennium of the Common Era.

Richard C. Foltz is Assistant Professor in the Department of Religion, University of Florida, and has held visiting positions at Columbia University, Brown University, and Gettysburg College. He holds a Ph.D. in History and Middle Eastern Studies from Harvard University. He is the author of Religions of the Silk Road (St. Martins Press, 1999) and Mughal India and Central Asia (Oxford University Press, 1998). He is presently working on a book about the environmental movement in contemporary Iran.

Freemasonry, Colonialism and Indigenous Elites: Fraternalism in Asia and the Pacific During the Nineteenth Century
Frank Karpiel, Ramapo College, New Jersey

            During the nineteenth century, Freemasonry spread across the globe as Britain and the European powers expanded their colonial empires and American vessels visited far-flung Pacific and Asian ports.  Naval officers along with civilian traders were enthusiastic proponents of the Masonic order and its ritual, fellowship, and useful international connections.  The first focus of this paper is the cultural and political context into which Freemasonry was introduced to Australia, Indonesia, Hawai¥i, Tahiti, the Philippines, India, China, and Japan during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Masonic lodges created zones of social interaction which transcended many of the tensions that divided Americans, Britons and Europeans in these colonial outposts and international trading centers. At the same time the fraternity also allowed competing factions within those national groups to find a sociable middle ground.

            The second half of this paper highlights the participation of Asian and Pacific elites who joined the Masonic order.  While reflecting the power relationships and a range of social values within the foreign community, Masonic lodges also offered a unique environment for indigenous leaders.  In Indonesia, Hawai¥i, the Philippines and throughout Asia, local elites often petitioned for membership and were welcomed as members (and sometimes masters) of lodges.  Far from being passive receptors of this Western tradition, these leaders actively appropriated the symbols and rituals of Freemasonry for their own purposes. Yet appropriation was a two way street, with fraternal groups dominated by Caucasians drawing upon indigenous traditions in formulating new ceremonies.  The øborrowingÓ of cultural practices such as tattooing, sacred dance and blood sacrifice thus illuminates the cross-cultural contests over history, culture and power that occurred in the Pacific and Asia within the fraternal context.      

Frank Karpiel is a Visiting Assistant Professor of History at Ramapo College of New Jersey. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Hawai¥i in 1998 and has taught world history since 1993.  Fields of interest include world history, American cultural history, ethnohistory, Hawaiian and Pacific history.  His major research projects have focused on the crosscultural dimensions of fraternalism in Hawai¥i and the development of Buddhism in America.  His publications include øMystic Ties of Brotherhood-Freemasonry, Ritual and Hawaiian Royalty,Ó Pacific Historical Review and articles in The Hawaiian Journal of History.

Migration and Family Structure: Theses on the Global History of Families
Patrick Manning, Northeastern University

            This paper aims to encourage a closer association of family history and world history. It emphasizes the role of migration in family history by applying a typology correlating family structures with distinctions among three types of regions: regions with few migrants, regions dominated by migrants, and regions with significant minorities of migrants.

            The paper argues that families changed substantially depending on the regional proportion of migrants.   In regions with few migrants (early modern Japan and France), senior levels of multigenerational families controlled land and access to marriage. In regions dominated by migrants (the Caribbean and maritime Southeast Asia), young people could start families without the approval of elders‹though this might introduce new sorts of oppression, such as enslavement of women.  Populated regions with significant numbers of migrants (the coasts of India, Africa, and Europe) also had distinctive family patterns:  prestigious migrants (generally male) could marry into established families, while subordinate migrants (commonly female) were recruited into established families.

            The paper concludes by generalizing these patterns as a set of theses on the world history of family structure.  (1) migration usually causes families to become smaller; (2) migrant-dominated zones of interaction developed family structures in which young people created their own families; (3) regions with sizeable minorities of migrants developed new structures for linking multigenerational families to unaffiliated individuals; (4) development of these new systems laid the groundwork for the marital and non-marital forms of families in more recent times, in which young people have increasingly migrated away from parental homes and have started families by their own choice.

Patrick Manning is Director of the World History Center and Professor of History, African-American Studies, and Education at Northeastern University.  His books include studies of economic history in West Africa, the demographic impact of slave trade on Africa and the diaspora, and a survey of francophone sub-Saharan Africa.  He led the team producing the Migration in Modern World History CD-ROM.

Governing globalization: Labour economic paradigms at the International Labour Organization, 1919-1998
Oliver Liang, International Labour Office

            This paper analyses four phases in the discussion of the notion of globalization at the International Labour Organization (ILO) and highlights the overarching labour economic paradigms which emerged among the participating actors. In a first triumphalist phase after its founding in 1919, the ILO was principally shaped by Western governments, workers, and employers who promoted free trade and sought to ensure a level playing field by securing minimum labour standards. After 1929, the ILO moved into a second phase, dominated by corporatism and nationalist Keynesian schemes for employment. After 1945, the discussion of globalization was conducted by a growing array of participants, including Western governments, employers, and workers, and a growing number of developing countries backed by the Soviet block.  During this phase, which lasted into the 1970s, the developing world was able to shape the discussion of world labour economics to transpose a rights-based discussion which initially sought to facilitate international trade into one which stressed the right to development. This consensus began to crumble in the 1980s, leading to a present phase in which many developing countries have sought a relaxation of global labour standards to encourage global investment. Rights are no longer a condition for investment, rather, global trade has become a condition for rights. The international dialogue on governing globalization has thus shifted from one dominated initially by Western governments against the developing world into a discussion between neo-liberal governments, both in the industrialized and developing world, against a growing network of international workers.

Oliver Liang was born in 1966 in Poughkeepsie, New York and received a B.A. from Vassar College in 1988.  He received his M.A. and Ph.D. from the Johns Hopkins University.  His doctoral dissertation, entitled øCriminal-biological theory, discourse and practice in Germany, 1918-1945,Ó explored the impact of criminological theory on German criminal law.  Since January 2000, he has been an official in the International Labour Standards and Human Rights Department of the International Labour Office.

A øTrade DiasporaÓ Redefined: State Building, National Interest and Colonial Settlement in Early Modern Trading Groups
Ina Baghdiantz McCabe, Tufts University

            The term øtrade diasporaÓ was coined to refer to øa nation of socially interdependent, but spatially dispersed communities.Ó  The way the term has been used has created a distortion of reality. It is applied to many groups in the early modern period: for example, Iranians in India, or the Indians on the African continent, the Armenians in Iran. It could equally apply, however, to the East India Company factors, such as the English in India and the Dutch in Southeast Asia, but it is never used this way. Two problems emerge: how should these  global merchant networks be studied, and why are the settlement by European company factors in Asia and the Americas viewed differently by scholarship?  They are studied with the framework of the nation-state. It demands the comparative study of several trading groups, and a reexamination of their participation in state-building in societies other than their own. The central examples comes from my work on the  Armenians in the silk trade:  the New Julfa Armenians formed trading settlements that spanned the globe from Narva to Shanghai. They had an Armenian trading company, which I will compare and contrast to the European East India Companies during the seventeenth century. K. N. Chaudhuri postulated that the trade settlements of a nation in diaspora, necessarily have a different outlook from merchants belonging to a nation, the assumption being that only the latter serve national interests and participate in state-building and in colonization. This begs a closer examination and a comparison between groups.

Ina Baghdiantz McCabe is Darakjian Jafarian Chair in Armenian History at Tufts University.  She has previously taught European history and Western civilization at Bennington College and at Columbia University. She has taught Armenian history at the University of Michigan and at the University of Chicago. Her research interests are the silk trade, early modern Eurasian trade, trade diaspora, and orientalism.  She is the author of several articles and of a book entitled: The Shahs Silk for Europes Silver: The Eurasian Trade of the Julfa Armenians in Safavid Iran and India (1530-1750).

State Formation in Ancient Northeast Africa and the Indian Ocean Trade
Stanley S. Burstein, California State University at Los Angeles

            The publication in 1974 of Immanuel Wallersteins The Modern World System was a milestone in the historiography of world history. With its by now familiar categories of core, semi-periphery, and periphery, Wallersteins scheme provided an integrated analysis of the socio-ecomomic history of the world since the sixteenth century CE, which correlated the development of  various regions with their function in the world system.

            Wallerstein specifically denied the applicability of world system analysis before this period, arguing that interregional trade in these periods was characterized by luxury trade and operated within a framework provided by world empires. Janet Abu-Lughod and others demonstrated that this chronological divide was unjustified and that, while there may have been no previous world system, interregional trading systems with similar characteristics did exist in antiquity and the middle ages. One such system was that focused on the Indian Ocean in the first three centuries CE.

            During these three centuries the Indian Ocean served as the focus of a trading system that ultimately extended from the Mediterranean basin to south China. Kenneth Hall and other scholars have demonstrated the close connection between the development of the Indian Ocean trade and state formation in the Indian subcontinent. This paper will argue that the same was true in northeast Africa and that the differing historical trajectories of the kingdoms of Kush and Axum in this period also reflect the influence of the Indian Ocean trade.

Stanley M. Burstein is Professor of Ancient History at California State University at Los Angeles. He was educated at the University of California at Los Angeles, receiving his Ph.D. in 1972. The focus of his research is Greek history with particular emphasis on the history of Greek relations with the peoples of the Black Sea and Northeast Africa. His publications include Outpost of Hellenism: The Emergence of Heraclea on the Black Sea (1976), Agatharchides of Cnidus: On the Erythraean Sea (1989), Graeco-Africana: Studies in the History of Greek Relations with Egypt and Nubia (1995), and Ancient African Civilizations: Kush and Axum (1998).

Regions and Interaction Networks: A World-Systems Perspective
Christopher Chase-Dunn and Andrew Jorgenson, University of California at Riverside

            This paper discusses methodological and conceptual issues in bounding human social systems and their interactions with the natural environment. We contend that interaction networks are far superior to cultural area and regional approaches for bounding human social systems. And we review several new approaches for studying the interactions between human systems and the natural environment.

Christopher Chase-Dunn is Distinguished Professor of Sociology at the University of California at Riverside. His recent research focuses on the causes of empire expansion and urban growth (and decline) in the Afroeurasian world-system over the last 3000 years. His study of structural globalization in the modern world-system since 1800 is supported by the National Science Foundation.

An Economic Middle Ground?: Anglo/African Interaction, Cooperation, and Competition at Cape Coast Castle in the Late Eighteenth Century Atlantic World
Ty M. Reese, University of North Dakota

            In eighteenth century West Africa, as the slave trade and Atlantic World concurrently expanded, European companies, slavers, and individuals operated and existed through the auspice of the coastal African peoples.  During a time when the slave trade helped to integrate various regional economies, West Africa presents a unique opportunity to research the consequences of European expansion where the local peoples maintained sovereignty.  This examination of Cape Coast Castle works to expand our understanding of cultural interaction and economic integration as African and European contact in West Africa illustrates how both benefited from this contact: an economic middle ground.  By focusing on one specific area of Anglo/African interaction, this study provides a better understanding of how diverse groups establish and utilize cross-cultural trade.  The paper will deal with this in two ways.  First, it will examine the opportunities that England's Company of Merchants Trading to Africa presented to the local caboceers and penyins, as well as their ability to control and manipulate this relationship.  The association that the African elite created with the English allowed them to strengthen their economic and political power over the local community.  The paper will then examine the opportunities gained by the coastal free and unfree laborers.  The company's inability to staff its administrative center with European laborers made it dependent upon local African labor, while the wages they received changed their position within society.

Ty Reese is currently an assistant professor of Atlantic world history at the University of North Dakota.  His dissertation, completed in August 1999, comparatively examined laborers and labor systems, within the context of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade, in three Atlantic ports‹Cape Coast Castle, London, and Philadelphia.  He is currently engaged in research on Cape Coast during a period of established, and mutual, economic activity at England's coastal administrative center.  This Gold Coast micro-history will explore the social, economic, political, and cultural consequences of the slave trade and African/European interaction on the Cape Coast peoples.

Power Cuisines, Dietary Determinism and Nutritional Crises
Rachel Laudan, Independent Scholar

            By about 1600, a single power cuisine (a style of cooking and eating for elites) was globally dominant. Variants were found in Persia, China, Japan, the Ottoman and Mughal empires, Spain, Portugal, their colonies, and northern Europe. Based on raw materials, techniques, and dietetics that had, over three thousand years, been extended worldwide, this power cuisine gave primacy to breads, pasta, and pilaus of wheat and rice; to spiced stews of lamb, poultry and game; and to sugar confections.  Common people subsisted on largely vegetarian diets dominated by gruels of lesser grains.

            Around 1650, the French, British and Dutch broke with traditional dietetics and (with their settlement colonies) created an alternative power cuisineËAtlantic cuisineËthat emphasized bread, beef, sugar, and sauces and confections based on flour and animal fats. By 1900, these powers had policies (not unconnected with empire) to ensure that all citizens ate Atlantic power cuisine.

            Consumers of traditional cuisines and of Atlantic power cuisine were united, however, in the belief that diet was largely responsible for both physique and character.  When consumers of traditional cuisines found themselves ruled by or threatened by consumers of Atlantic cuisine, crises about diet and nutrition naturally surfaced. I shall sketch how the handling of these crises in countries such as Thailand, India, Japan, Mexico, Italy and the United States in the first half of the twentieth century related to the globalization of food.

Trained as a historian of science, Rachel Laudan has taught at Carnegie-Mellon, Pittsburgh, and Virginia Tech; held fellowships at the Dibner Institute, MIT, the Institute for Advanced Studies, the Davis Center, and Princeton University; and grants from NEH, NSF, and Fulbright.  While at the University of Hawaii, she became fascinated by the global forces shaping Hawaiis food, leading to the 1977 Julia Child Prize for The Food of Paradise: Exploring Hawaiis Culinary Heritage (University of Hawaii Press,1996). Now freelance in Mexico, she is working on a book on global culinary history, which will be published by the University of Chicago Press.

Great Qing and Its Southern Neighbors, 1760-1820: Secular Trends and Recovery from Crisis
John E. Wills, Jr., University of Southern California

            Between 1760 and 1820, Chinas two great mainland neighbors, Siam (now Thailand) and Annam (now Vietnam) passed through major phases of political breakdown, revolt, and civil war. Vietnams, encompassing almost thirty years of the rise and rule of the Tayson rebels and their overthrow by the Nguyen, who went on to found a new and stronger united kingdom, was apparently deeper and longer-lasting than Siams experience of Burmese invasion, successful resistance, and the founding of the Bangkok Dynasty that still reigns in 2001. Both upheavals can be usefully viewed, I suggest, as consequences of an eighteenth century of commercial and demographic growth, producing a larger number of regional centers of power, many of them complexly entwined with the activities of ¹migr¹ Chinese. The ¹migr¹ Chinese also contributed in basic ways to the new regimes that emerged from the chaos.

            The Qing Dynasty kept track from a distance of these changes in two important tributary states. Records preserved in the First Historical Archives in Beijing are important for the student of these changes, and show the limitations of Qing information, understanding, and ability to intervene. The emergence after the chaos of stable regimes that resumed regular tributary relations with Beijing was one source of Qing oblivion to the massive changes that were taking place in Southeast Asia and would expand to engulf China in the Opium War of 1839-1842.

John E. Wills, Jr. earned his Ph.D. under the direction of John K. Fairbank and Yang Lien-sheng at Harvard. Since 1965 he has taught Chinese history and early modern world history at the University of Southern California. His research centers on the history of maritime China and Sino-Western relations in early modern times, using printed and archival sources in Chinese and in European languages. Most recently he has published Mountain of Fame: Portraits in Chinese History (Princeton University Press, 1994) and 1688: A Global History (W.W. Norton and Granta Books, 2001).

Crossing the Sahara: The Failure of an Early Modern Attempt to Unify Islamic Africa
Stephen Cory, University of California at Santa Barbara

            The traditional area studies approach towards Africa is to divide the continent between North Africa (Arab Africa) and sub-Saharan Africa (black Africa). Through the use of this model, a mental barrier is constructed, located approximately in the middle of the Sahara desert, which can blind scholars to the many economic, cultural, religious, and ethnic links between North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa. This mental barrier has not always existed in the minds of Africans and, despite the difficulties associated with crossing the Sahara, attempts have been made in the past to unify the two regions.

            My paper examines the attempt made by a sixteenth-century Moroccan monarch, Ahmad al-Mansur, to unify these regions using the traditional Islamic concept of the caliphate as the link to adjoin sub-Saharan Africa to his domains.  Even though this effort ultimately failed, I argue that al-Mansur recognized some long-standing connections between the two regions, which he sought to capitalize upon. The reasons for this invasion as well as the causes of its failure can be instructive in understanding the commonalties and the differences between the two regions, and the beginnings of proto-nationalism in Northwest Africa.  In contrast to al-Mansur, modern nationalistic ideologies emphasize difference and competition, rather than the unifying elements of traditional Islamic doctrines.

            In summary, I discuss the question: Are there other ways to view this continent that are more productive in allowing us to clearly see the many links that continue to exist between the regions of North, West, and East Africa? 

Stephen Cory is a graduate student studying Islamic History at the University of California at Santa Barbara.  He is currently completing his dissertation research in Morocco, with funding from a Fulbright Hays fellowship.  His dissertation is entitled, "Chosen by God to Rule: Messianic Islam and Political Legitimacy in Early Modern Morocco."  Stephen lives with his wife and four daughters in the Middle Atlas mountains, not far from the historic city of Fes.

Going Beyond Nation and the "East-West" Divide
Palmira Brummett & Lydia Pulsipher, University of Tennessee

            We illustrate two alternatives to the nation-state as the primary unit of historical and geographic analysis: 1) the island‹comparing the Caribbean and parts of island Southeast Asia, e.g. East Timor‹as the focus of decolonization; and 2) the city-state‹using Goa and Dubrovnik as two examples that enduringly resist integration into the nation. Both cases are comparative and counter assumptions about the "East-West" divide. These two cases illustrate the limitations in space and imagination of the nation-state. On the one hand, the island, by its very nature (size, boundedness, isolation) has an enduring geographical identity that can aid, resist, or confound the constraints of national identity. Colonization often attempts to overturn cultural and environmentally determined identities but succeeds only in muting or being muted by them. On the other, Dubrovnik and Goa stand as enduring examples of the autonomous city-state with their own "glorious" histories of sub-regional rule and resistance to the attempts of colonial powers to subordinate them. These city-states were ultimately integrated into the nation-states of Croatia and India, but continue to insist on their historically defined identities as separate, independent, and "different." Our two cases are linked by the following: the tenacious efforts of colonial powers to dominate long after the imperial era has ended; geographic isolation; traditional connections to the sea; and now, dependency on tourism. The latter leaves these places with the contradictory needs to appear safe destinations while trying to construct identities that counter long histories of control from outside.

Lydia Miheli Pulsipher was raised in the Middle West, by a  Slovene immigrant father and a German mother. She received a Ph.D. in Geography from Southern Illinois University and is Professor of Geography at the University of Tennessee. For 27 years she has done field archaeological and historical geography research in the Eastern Caribbean, focusing on the human ecology of enslaved Africans in plantation settlements. She is the author of professional articles and monographs and of the college textbook, World Regional Geography, published by W.H. Freeman, NYC, 2000.

Palmira Brummett is Associate Professor of History at the University of Tennessee.  She received her Ph.D in Middle Eastern History and Islamic Studies from the University of Chicago in 1988. Her primary interest is the intersections of rhetoric and reality. She is the author of various articles and two books: Ottoman Seapower and Levantine Diplomacy in the Age of Discovery and Image and Imperialism in the Ottoman Revolutionary Press. She is co-author of Longmans Civilizations Past and Present, a world history text.

Analyzing the Phenomenon of Borderlands From Comparative and Cross Cultural Perspectives
John A. Mears, Southern Methodist University

            In order to address the primary themes suggested by a conference on interactions, this paper begins with a definition of world-historical regions and then discuss borderlands as particular kinds of closely knit yet permeable regions of interaction between strongly contrasting cultures. It then draws on examples from four unique contexts‹Chinas northern frontier with the pastoral nomads of Inner Asia, classical Romes frontiers with Germanic peoples to the north and the Parthian-Sassanian empires to the east, the Christian-Moslem confrontation on early modern Europes steppe frontier, and the borderlands of the American Southwest/northern Mexico‹to suggest how the divisions and accommodations between diverse peoples create nexuses of distinctive interests within these shared meeting grounds. Particular attention is given to how we might investigate the social realities characteristic of borderlands as well as the historical consequences these zones of transition have tended to produce. The paper concludes with observations about the use of comparative methods in identifying the systemic differences as well as the structural similarities of borderland dynamics in various historical periods and different places around the world.

John A. Mears, an associate professor of history at Southern Methodist University, received his B. A. from the University of Minnesota and Ph. D. from the University of Chicago. A specialist in early modern Europe with a particular interest in the Habsburg monarchy, he initially published a series of articles on relationships between the development of professional standing armies and state-building in the seventeenth century as well as essays on comparative revolutionary movements. With a growing interest in global history, he became an active member of the World History Association, eventually serving as its president. Having published on methodological and theoretical issues related to world history, he is currently working on a book tentatively entitled To Be Human: A Perspective on Our Common History.

The 1970s in World History: Economic Crisis as Institutional Transition
Lauren Benton, New Jersey Institute of Technology and Rutgers University, Newark

            The decade of the 1970s marked the beginning of an extended global institutional shift away from a world interstate order and toward a more fractured international regime.  This argument requires both a revised understanding of earlier global shifts and an approach to macrohistorical narratives that manages to incorporate the insights of post-structuralism.

            The 1970s marked a striking set of conjunctures.  Deep, twin recessions prompted an energetic round of global economic restructuring. The United States withdrawal from Vietnam coincided with the Portuguese Revolution and the end to formal, Eruope-centered colonialism.  New forms of developing-country association made a noisy entry.  And the failure of cold war politics was signaled by such events as the ill-fated Soviet intervention in Afghanistan, the brutal, U.S.-sponsored coups in the Southern Cone, and the multi-sided and ideologically blurry conflicts in Angola and the Horn of Africa.  Historical accounts of the decade have managed so far neither to show the relation among such events nor to agree upon their impact

            One way to stimulate new approaches to the decade is to model our strategies on new interpretive approaches to global history more generally.  In particular, institutional world history promises to help merge economic and cultural narratives. An example is the study of international legal regimes in world history.  Of special relevance is the interpretation of the rise of the interstate order in the long nineteenth century as a phenomenon resulting not from colonial imposition but from institutional responses to repeated sets of conflicts over the location of political authority and cultural boundaries inside colonial polities.

            Returning to the 1970s, we find that this approach is also useful in understanding the institutional and cultural dimensions of the decades economic crisis.  Three processes, in particular, help us to see these connections: the reemergence of cross-national diasporas as significant economic and political forces; economic re-regionalization and its accompanying political and cultural de-centering; and the growing complexity and depth of global commodity chains.

            A review of the literature on these phenomena reveals pressures on governance in two directions.  On one side, sub-national institutions and regional identities gained new autonomy and legitimacy; on the other side, new forms of inter-state association (OPEC, trade accords, the Lom¹ Convention) emerged in the 1970s and proceeded to gain importance.  These shifts were also met, paradoxically, with various efforts to reinvigorate state institutions and enhance state coercive powers.

            The emerging international regime that was so decisively initiated in the 1970s is perhaps best characerized as a modified interstate order that is historically novel in the depth and variety of non-state and extra-state transnational interconnections. The 1970s did not give us this new order, but we will do well to look to the decade and the peculiar confluence of economic crisis and restructuring, cultural pluralism, and political conflict and transition as a pivotal time in its emergence. As these narratives of 1970s institutional change unfold, we need not choose between the insights of post-structuralism and the certainties of narrative history. Understood broadly, institutional shifts are linked in specific ways to cultural discourse and political economy.  The study of these connections offers a theoretical opening for merging analysis of culture and economy, as well as a means to reconceptualize the ties between local conflicts and the reconstitution of global regimes.

Lauren Benton has research interests in comparative economic development and institutional world history.  She is the author of Invisible Factories (SUNY Press, 1990) and Law and Colonial Cultures: Legal Regimes in World History, 1400-1900 (Cambridge University Press, 2001).  Benton is Associate Professor of History at NJIT and Rutgers University, Newark.


Copyright Statement

Copyright: © 2001 by the American Historical Association. Compiled by Debbie Ann Doyle. Format by Chris Hale.

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