| Voll Q3

Voll Q3

Author

John Voll

Response

One of the major features of the era from 1300 to 1900 in world history is the increasingly intense nature of networks of interaction that transcend local, regional, and societal boundaries. The different levels are not exclusive polarities – dynamics are not either/ or but rather are inclusive. Seeing “global” and “local” as being opposites, for example, obscures the increasing importance of “global” elements in shaping distinctive “local” cultures/ societies, and also the contributions of “local” elements to the definitions of seemingly “global” phenomena. A useful example of the productivity of seeing “global” and “local” as interacting and not necessarily competing dimensions of any given society’s history is Donald R. Wright, The World and a Very Small Place in Africa (London: Sharpe, 1997). Wright uses the global system conceptualizations of Richard Eaton (Islamic History as Global History) and Voll in his very “local” history of Niumi in the Gambia River valley. (See pages 18-19, and note 7, page 33.)

In this reconceptualization, a useful concept is “cosmopolitanism” as discussed, for example, in the special issue of the Journal of World History 21, No. 3 (September 2010) on “Cosmopolitanism in World History.”

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