Introduction: History’s Pathways
“History” is a deceptively simple concept. It invokes the notions of change over time, human agency, the role of material circumstances in human affairs, and the question of the putative meaning of historical events. It raises the possibility of “learning from history”—whether from the experience of the Peloponnesian War or the Korean War, the 1918 avian influenza pandemic or the Chinese Great Leap Forward famine. And it suggests the possibility of better understanding ourselves in the present, by understanding the forces and circumstances that brought us to our current situation.