Before Globalization? Afro-Eurasian World History 500-1800

Department of History, School of History and Cultures

College of Arts and Law


Code 22612

Level of study Third/Final year

Credit value 20

Semester 1&2

Module description

The `globalization' of the world over the last few decades, has exposed the brittleness of `European modernity' as an overarching theme in world history. Complex global trends are happening more quickly than historians can invent new frameworks and models to comprehend them. This module is contributes to these new interpretive conditions by inviting you to consider the dynamics of human interaction across the Afro-Eurasian world system from 500 to 1800, before `European modernity'. An important aim of this module is critically to confront Eurocentric grand narratives that have inhibited the understanding of our own European past and prevented our better appreciation of historical agency in other parts of the world. It offers a comparative synchronic study of religious and political cultures and formations, economic and technological developments, and cross-cultural contacts and trends from West-Africa and Ireland on the East Atlantic seaboard, to Japan in East Asia. A central problem we will have to ponder is whether we can talk of a global history prior to the rise of the West, and how such a history might be characterized. In its geographical and chronological scope this module has been designed to appeal to anyone who would like to find out more about non-European `pre-modern' civilizations. Some of the episodes that will be studied include the rise of Islam, imperial formations in India, Europe, China and on the nomadic steppe, religious mission, aggression, and the development of a world economy, and cycles of political centralization and fragmentation in East Asia, Japan and Europe