The Global History, a new research program?

This time we will talk about global history.There is today a body of research which, because of the problems and the themes to which they refer, by the main theoretical currents which animate them, and by the precursor works on which they are based, can be grouped within of a single international research program: Global History.

This program is initially fundamentally transdisciplinary, in particular by taking up a series of problems whose horizon of resolution constituted the social sciences before they were institutionalized into distinct academic disciplines at the end of the XIX thcentury. The global history is thus developed today on the basis and at the crossroads of the different social sciences, whose specific contributions are integrated from a common secondary literature. In other words, there is an economy, a sociology, a geography, an archeology, a political science, an anthropology, and of course a history, feeding the great river of global history at the confluence of their researches. In order to evolve the river metaphor, these different upstream disciplines nurture in data and concepts the problems peculiar to the global history, while downstream readings of second-hand induce a space of confrontation of the facts and the theories constituting its analyzes and its overcoming of the compartmentalisation of the social sciences in thematic fields, in cultural areas,

Global History

This program therefore focuses on the subject of study specific to the social sciences (human practices and spheres of social activities). It seeks to describe, understand and explain these from the point of view of their raison d’être; in other words, he asks why some human practice or social activity is rather than not being, happens rather than in any other way, and is transformed in this way rather than another particularly in view of their relationship to one another. Nevertheless, this fundamental problem is formulated in Global History under cover of three types of specific analyzes.

First of all, an analysis of social change linked to the large-scale accumulation of technical, financial and human capital, that is to say, integrating the question of the genesis and development of the State, industry , of the market economy, of scientific progress and therefore of capitalism. It must be said that this work has been at the heart of the elaboration and implementation of the work of Smith, Marx, Weber, Sombart and Polanyi in the founding debates between the modernists (Meyer and Rostovtseff) and the primitivists (Bücher and Finley). the rise of the social sciences.

Global History

This issue is then indissociable from a criticism of Eurocentrism and a radical rethinking of ethnocentric perspectives. Essentially, this consists of departing from the great teleological narrative contemplating the historical trajectories of different human societies independently of the exchanges that have guided their centuries-old development. It is inconceivable today, following the developments of Jack Goody and James Blaut, to consider the course of Western societies to the prism of the Greek miracle of antiquity, postponed thanks to the collapse of the Empire Roman Empire and the advent of European feudalism in the days of the Italian Renaissance and the modern era as a prelude to industrial revolutions and the advent of liberal democracy and the market economy.

This problematic is finally explored through the analysis of the sets of scales associated with the integration or the empowerment of the spheres of social activities. The Annales school, as well as the World History, have done much to bring to the forefront this concern to articulate different geographic levels of interaction (local, national, regional, global) to multiple temporalities (structural, economic and event-time). This is reflected first of all by taking into account the structuring effect of exchange networks, according to their characteristic flows (goods, services, capital, knowledge, images and know-how, populations, political violence and diplomatic negotiations ), according to their morphology (extent, hierarchical or rhizomic configuration), and according to the forms of interactions established between the exchange partners. Particular attention is paid to the frequency and intensity of these interactions, their direct or indirect character (mediated, and their internal logic (reciprocity, redistribution, marketing, predation, protection, transmission, etc.). This also means taking into account the primary impact of the evolution of power, production, transport and communication technologies on the nature of these exchanges. And this is reflected in the attention paid to the expansion or contraction of these networks of exchanges between localities, regions and continents, whether at the level of matrimonial circuits, migratory networks, goods chains, roads trade, spheres of capital and wealth, technology transfers, armed conflicts, or areas for the dissemination of languages, scientific knowledge, religious traditions,

Global History

The study of the processes of globalization is therefore at the heart of the research program of Global History. This geographic expansion of trade and flow is inseparable from the forms of acculturation, mixing and cosmopolitanism that result. Nevertheless, this “acceleration of history” and “opening up” of the localities are very old and attested at least since the Bronze Age (III th millennium BC) and even since the Neolithic revolution (between X e and IX emillennium BC). Moreover, not only have the processes of globalization been characterized by their discontinuity and cyclicity (the networks of exchange contracting during certain historical periods), but, moreover, these processes have been correlated with different types of social change , commodification of factors of production, etc.), according to the nature of the groups of companies thus connected. The first central problem for global history is therefore to characterize the distinct modalities of this synergy (expansion of trade / evolutionary transformation of societies), as it has manifested sporadically in America, Oceania and the hemisphere Afro-Eurasian since the Neolithic Revolution and the Bronze Age. In other words,

While the existence and the multi-decade oscillation of the networks of exchanges have had structuring effects on all the societies and cultures thus connected, the latter have also been able to develop and stand out on the basis of their own dynamics, a work of reappropriation situated, as well as historical circumstances and ecological and political specificities linked to the territorial rooting of the populations and the forms of intergenerational transmission within them. The second central problem for global history is therefore to know at what scale of interaction and temporality it is necessary to refer, but also to what extent it is possible to relativize the impact of these exchanges between and within the same of these societies and cultures,

Global History

These two central problems are treated and fiercely discussed by the main theoretical currents, giving Global History its globalizing vision and the field of its controversies. These major poles of theoretical reflections were constituted in the respective wake of the principal founding figures of the social sciences; namely, Adam Smith for classical sources, Karl Marx for Marxist references, Carl Menger for neoclassical positions and Gustav Von Schmoller for historicist perspectives. Global History, far from escaping the Methodenstreit ( Methodenstreit ) is rooted on the contrary in the debates surrounding the end of the XIX th century between the Austrian School and the German historical school.

Neither institutionally, Menger’s successors develop a global history based on gaming theory and transaction costs, ie assimilate globalization and historical phenomena of convergence of prices of goods and factors, to conclude that there is no before the nineteenth centurycentury. Building on the ideas of Smith and Malthus, the latter compare the historical consequences of the smithian dynamics centered on regional specialization and the concomitant geographical extension of markets. The objective is then to understand how the emergence and the encouragement of major institutional and technological innovations are likely to thwart the possible Malthusian limits of these dynamics, linked to the non-renewal of arable land caused by deforestation, erosion soils and the problematic attainment of the five necessities of life (offspring, food, fibers, fuels, building materials). The heirs of Marx found in the system-world analysis, founded by Wallerstein, the opportunity to analyze the structuring of relations between localities and regions according to the center / semi-periphery / periphery / margins model, starting from the transfer of surpluses (social obligations, coercive extraction, unequal trade) between the different elites managers and entrepreneurs of the interconnected companies. Finally, Schmoller’s descendants are part of the continuity of German and American diffusionism and culturalism, prevalent in interpretative anthropology and contemporary postcolonial studies, to study cultural flows and contact and cross-cultural situations to the work and creolization of the human imagination. coercive extraction, unequal commercial exchange) between the various ruling and entrepreneurial elites of the interconnected companies. Finally, Schmoller’s descendants are part of the continuity of German and American diffusionism and culturalism, prevalent in interpretative anthropology and contemporary postcolonial studies, to study cultural flows and contact and cross-cultural situations to the work and creolization of the human imagination. coercive extraction, unequal commercial exchange) between the various ruling and entrepreneurial elites of the interconnected companies. Finally, Schmoller’s descendants are part of the continuity of German and American diffusionism and culturalism, prevalent in interpretative anthropology and contemporary postcolonial studies, to study cultural flows and contact and cross-cultural situations to the work and creolization of the human imagination.

Global History

Thus, global history as an international research program emerges on the unified horizon of the social sciences and paradoxically holds together its unity of the peculiarity of its analyzes, the diversity of its survey methodologies, the disparity of its problematical themes and the incompatibility of its concepts.

Great Divergence