The articles in this classic issue are among those most requested by readers. Each article is now freely available on the UH Press website in PDF format.
Inner Eurasia as a Unit of World History, p. 173
Inner Eurasia includes the lands dominated by the former Soviet Union, as well as Mongolia and parts of Xinjiang. These make up the heartland of the Eurasian continent. Inner Eurasia is a coherent unit of world history, for its societies faced ecological and military problems different from those of the rest of Eurasia and responded by evolving distinctive lifeways. Five dominant lifeways are described here, which have shaped the history of the entire region from prehistory to the present. Inner Eurasia is losing its distinctive features in the contemporary era.
Islam as a Special World-System, p. 213
John Obert Voll
World-system analysis emphasizes the economic and material dimensions of major units of world history. Part of Immanuel Wallerstein’s analysis posits that in premodern times, only two varieties of world-system existed: world-empires and world-economies. The history of the Islamic world shows that there may be a different type of world-system: a hemispheric community of discourse where the patterns of communication are based on Islam. In this perspective, the post-Abbasid world of Islam is better described as a discourse-based world-system than as “Islamic civilization.”
Meeting Yesterday Head-on: The Vietnam War in Vietnamese, American, and World History, p. 227
Craig A. Lockard
The American-Vietnamese War can best be analyzed in the context of three distinct entities: Vietnam, the United States, and the larger world. It can be seen as an episode in the larger history of each of these entities. This important war resulted from a confluence of factors that were deeply rooted in these histories. The first is Vietnam’s revolutionary tradition and centuries-long struggle for national independence. Second is U.S. foreign policy, driven by the Cold War but chronically outward-thrusting. Third is a global context of anticolonial, anti-imperialist, and socially transformational revolutions in the twentieth century.
The Other One-Third of the Globe, p. 273
While the history of European penetration of the Pacific covers less than 500 years, the first colonization of the western margins of this huge region began some 50,000 years ago. Between 1500 B.C. and A.D. 1000, all the habitable islands of the remote Pacific were settled by Austronesian seafarers. The story of this original exploration and colonization of the Pacific, the later development of the many island cultures, and the fate of today’s Pacific islanders is well worth telling, for this is one ocean people have really lived in, not simply sailed across.
Of Rats and Men: A Synoptic Environmental History of the Island Pacific, p. 299
J. R. McNeill
Most Pacific islands have tumultuous environmental histories. The late arrival of humankind in the Pacific, and after that the long isolation of human communities, led to great vulnerability to invasion by alien species, from microbes to mammals. In the broadest terms, the Pacific has seen two human invasions. Original settlers caused many environmental changes, most notably faunal extinctions. Then Captain Cook brought Pacific communities into contact with the wider world, with powerful ecological consequences. Since Cook’s time, environmental change has chiefly resulted from population change, invasion by exotic species, and the impact of large-scale market connections.