Going Global: Thematic Explorations in World History
This chapter presents arguments for a thematic approach to world history. In addition to helping to resolve Eurocentric schemes of periodization and their accompanying terminology, thematic approaches overall have improved modes of conceptualization, comparison and synthesis in the field. A number of key themes address questions of increasing complexity and scale in the unfolding of the human past, namely: cooking food and sharing a common human past, the impact of agriculture (and other markers of “civilization”) on building world systems of inequality; how urbanization, beliefs, family, and economic exchanges have gone about shaping modernity through gradual and revolutionary change; and, finally, resistance and globalization. Thematic narratives highlight societal and institutional issues of conflict and disorder, paired against the intimacy of the family’s daily life, complexity and inequality, injustice and resistance. This temporal and topical breadth thus moves us between the levels of individual and collective experience, between social history and political or economic history.