World History in Context

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Rebecca Nichols
HIS 140 – A History of Humanity
Essay 1

World History in Context, written by David Christian (2003), questions the context of world history as well as the complexity of human history and the societies with which they live. In Christian’s article he argues that looking at world history in its global context, rather than one specific moment in history, is the way it is intended to be interpreted and allows historians to recognize reoccurring patterns and themes. World history is meant to be an unbiased account of only one specific species, humans (Christian 2003, 437-438). Historians often struggle with this challenging topic and tend to produce works extremely biased, usually towards stable ‘western civilizations’ and Eurocentric cultures. It is important to note that every community is included in the definition of world history whether they were literate and civilized or not (Ponting 2000, 1). Christian also criticizes the lack of exploration into the context of world history and emphasizes its importance for the discipline (Christian 2003, pp. 437-438). For example, it would be impossible to distinguish the relevance of the 19th century workers’ movement without fully understanding the industrial revolution that initiated it because it would be taken completely out of context. The unique feature of world history is its ability to ‘interconnect all past events’ within each other, without world history we would have little understanding of ourselves and how we came to be. It is world history, when told correctly, that gives us a fluent story to look back upon (Harman 2008, pp. i-iii). The universe, living organisms and human societies are each ‘evolving towards more complex structures’ that must be maintained by larger flows of energy. The universe sustains energy through ‘differentials in energy levels’ or work and is a fairly simple structure when compared to living organisms and human societies. Living organisms, on the other hand, are...
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