World History

World History

Like many of my peers, I was only introduced to world history when I arrived at my first teaching position and was suddenly required to expand my focus from two small parts of Africa in the nineteenth century to thousands of years on a global scale. Since those early years, I have found that my dual roles as a world historian and as an Africanist complement each other but also lead to intersecting critiques of the two fields. In the process, I became something of a critic of universalist, ecumenical world history and a proponent of an approach to the global past that engages a broader swath of history and heritage practitioners. This is partly the impetus behind the Uncovering History project, a series that I edit for Oxford University Press, which brings scholarly work from researchers around the world to the world history classroom through digital modules in which students ‘do history’, working with original evidence and scholarly methods to understand the global past.  The first module in the series is my own Equiano or Vassa, African or American?

In 2008, I was awarded a Fulbright fellowship to study African approaches to world history, which resulted in a number of publications such as “Towards an Historical Sociology of World History” and “World History and the Rainbow Nation: Educating Values in the United States and South Africa.” Recently, I authored a chapter about intersections between world history and heritage practices in a volume in honor of Jerry Bentley, which was just published by Hawaii University Press. I also make creative student-focused contributions to world history, including Empires and Colonies in the Modern World: A Global History (with Heather Streets-Salter) and The Long Nineteenth Century, 1750-1914: The Crucible of Modernity.