History of Globalization

The history of globalization is “hot,” having emerged as a major field of historical studies since the 1990s.

“Why is globalization ‘hot’ now and what does it portend for the study of history?” asks Lynn Hunt, Professor of History at UCLA and author of numerous books on the French Revolution, cultural history, and historiography. Hunt is the author of a new book on Writing History in the Global Era (W.W. Norton, 2014).


Hunt argues that “Globalization – defined most succinctly as the interconnection and interdependence of places far distant from each other — did not abruptly attract attention in the 1990s because it only started then or took a fundamentally different shape at that moment. What did happen was the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War. Globalization filled the ideological vacuum created by the end of the Cold War division between capitalism and communism.”

Many scholars would agree that the concept of “globalization” has become more than simply a buzzword, but definitions of globalization vary widely, especially if one considers various disciplinary methods and interdisciplinary approaches.

Hunt concludes that “now that a clearer view of globalization in that period is emerging, it is time for historians to think more systematically about how the parts fit together, that is, about whether there is a metanarrative of globalization to be told that has a basis in historical research.”

Early modern historians are indeed embracing the concept of globalization and tracing the deep historical roots of globalizing processes. Competing historical approach to globalization have emerged, including world history, economic history, diasporic history, comparative history, connected history, and environmental history.

I am particularly interested in the development of the field of early modern globalization studies, since I am currently revising a book manuscript on War and Conflict in the Early Modern World, 1500-1700, which is an synthetic essay on armed conflict and organized violence in global perspective. I have also taught graduate seminars on Early Modern Globalization and Religious Violence in Global Perspective that deal significantly with early modern globalization.

Some of the major new books on the history of early modern globalization include:

Hopkins, A. G. Globalization in World History. New York: Norton, 2002.

Osterhammel, Jürgen, and Niels P. Petersson. Globalization: a Short History. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2005.

Parker, Charles H. Global Interactions in the Early Modern Age, 1400-1800. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010.

Parker, Geoffrey. Global Crisis: War, Climate and Catastrophe in the Seventeenth Century. New Haven, Conn: Yale Univ Pr, 2013.

Richards, John F. The Unending Frontier An Environmental History of the Early Modern World. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003.

Hunt’s article on “Is Globalization the New Paradigm for History?” is published online by History News Network.

This entry was posted in Current Research, Early Modern Europe, Early Modern World, Empires and Imperialism, French History, French Revolution and Napoleon, Globalization, Historiography and Social Theory, History of Violence, War, Culture, and Society, Warfare in the Early Modern World. Bookmark the permalink.

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