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Teleology, Discontinuity and World History: Periodization and Some Creation Myths of Modernity

Teleology, Discontinuity and World History: Periodization and Some Creation Myths of Modernity Discussions of world history often focus on the pros and cons of thinking on large spatial scales. However, world history also tends to employ unusually large timescales, both for research and teaching; frequently it is framed around a teleology and a series of “revolutions” which mark milestones taking humans from a very distant past to “modernity.” Moreover, world history usually rejects regionally specific period markers (e.g. Renaissance), making periodization within this long timespan especially difficult. This article surveys various approaches to these problems, and shows that any of them, if treated as sufficient by itself, introduces significant distortions. It argues for a world history that highlights this problem, rather than hiding it, and which uses the need to deploy multiple timescales simultaneously to clarify the distinctive intellectual contribution of historical thinking. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Asian Review of World Histories Brill

Teleology, Discontinuity and World History: Periodization and Some Creation Myths of Modernity

Asian Review of World Histories , Volume 1 (2): 38 – Jun 29, 2013

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Publisher
Brill
Copyright
Copyright © Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands
ISSN
2287-965X
eISSN
2287-9811
DOI
10.12773/arwh.2013.1.2.189
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Discussions of world history often focus on the pros and cons of thinking on large spatial scales. However, world history also tends to employ unusually large timescales, both for research and teaching; frequently it is framed around a teleology and a series of “revolutions” which mark milestones taking humans from a very distant past to “modernity.” Moreover, world history usually rejects regionally specific period markers (e.g. Renaissance), making periodization within this long timespan especially difficult. This article surveys various approaches to these problems, and shows that any of them, if treated as sufficient by itself, introduces significant distortions. It argues for a world history that highlights this problem, rather than hiding it, and which uses the need to deploy multiple timescales simultaneously to clarify the distinctive intellectual contribution of historical thinking.

Journal

Asian Review of World HistoriesBrill

Published: Jun 29, 2013

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