In This Review

Writing History in the Global Era
Writing History in the Global Era
By Lynn Hunt
208 pp, W. W. Norton & Company, 2014

Ever since the study of history became an academic profession in the late nineteenth century, historians have been primarily occupied with writing national histories. That approach has become less tenable in recent decades as globalization has gained momentum. Meanwhile, according to Hunt, the social and cultural theories that have dominated the field since the 1950s have grown stale. Studying identity, gender, class, and culture remains an essential task, but in doing so, scholars tend to focus on individuals and local settings, ignoring global structures and forces. Hunt therefore sees the recent turn toward “global history” as a promising trend. This approach not only allows scholars to see the growing connections between nations in today’s world but also encourages the retelling of older histories from a global or transnational perspective. In Hunt’s view, the challenge is to give the new global history more theoretical heft and coherence without resorting to teleological or narrowly Western-centric notions of modernity. This challenge is not unique to history; it is a problem at the core of all the social sciences.