In Search of Longevity and Good Karma: Chinese Diplomatic Missions to Middle India in the Seventh Century
Abstract: Between 641 and 658 C.E., at least four diplomatic missions were dispatched to the kingdom of Kanauj in central India by the Tang court of China (618-907). A close examination of these seventh-century Chinese embassies in this essay reveals the personal and other-wordly objectives of Chinese emperors, Buddhist monks, and laymen in Sino-Indian relations. Motivated by personal agendas, individuals such as the eminent monk Xuanzang, Emperor Taizong, and the Chinese diplomat Wang Xuance helped open and sustain the political channels between China and South Asia. Diplomatic exchanges between the Tang court and Kanauj seems to have benefitted or influenced the contemporary Buddhist community and mercantile groups, and they promoted subsequent Sino-Indian contacts.
Volcanism and Short-Term Climatic Change in East Asian and World History, c. 1200-1699
William S. Atwell
Abstract: While living in Paris in the spring of 1784, Benjamin Franklin wrote a remarkable essay in which he suggested that the “universal fog” and very cool temperatures that had affected western Europe and eastern North America for much of the previous year might have been caused, at least in part, by “the vast quantity of smoke, long continuing to issue . . . from Hecla [Mt. Hekla] in Iceland, and that other volcano [Mr. Reykjaneshryggur] which rose out of the sea near that island, which smoke might be spread by various winds, over the northern part of the world.” Although he incorrectly identified the most important volcano to erupt in Iceland in 1783 as Hekla (it was actually Lakagigar) and was unaware of several other powerful eruptions around the world that year, Franklin’s views on the possible impact of volcanic activity on global climate have been of great interest to modern researchers. Indeed, it is now clear, as a report from the American Geophysical Union has put it, that certain kinds of eruptions “can lead to a change in the radiation balance and temperature of the earth. Such a climatic ‘forcing’ by volcanic eruptions appears to be one of the most significant short-term changes imposed by nature.” After reviewing some important recent research on this topic, this essay will explore the implications of that research for the study of East Asian and world history.
The Discourse of Civilization and Pan-Asianism
Abstract: At the end of World War I, the idea of multiple civilizations as opposed to a singular Enlightenment Civilization gained acceptance with the emergence of anti-imperialist nationalism. The new civilization discourse was a product not only of the writings of Western thinkers like Oswald Spengler and Arnold J. Toynbee, but also of various intellectual, cultural, religious, and social movements in East Asia and elsewhere. Central to the understanding of civilization during this period was the extent to which it could be identified or conflated with a national ideal. The Japanese deployment of the pan-Asianist civilizational rhetoric in China and elsewhere represents a complex case study of the potential of this discourse. As long as the civilizational idea could represent an ideal that transcended loyalty to the nation-state, it retained its critical possibilities.
The “Globalization” of Disease? India and the Plague
I. J. Catanach
Abstract: Some of the earliest reports about Indian plague of 1896 and the following years are here reconsidered, to some extent in light of the supposed return of plague to India in 1994. So, too, is more recent work on the role of fleas and rodents. Finally, some attention is given to the significance for historians of new conclusions, reached with the benefit of DNA analysis, on the possibilities of mutation in the plague pathogen itself. Commonly accepted notions about the role of human beings in the spread of plague–over India, over the world, and over the centuries — are not rejected outright. But they are, in some cases queried.
“Colossal Illusions”: U.S.-Japanese Relations in the Institute of Pacific Relations, 1919-1938
Jon Thares Davidann
Abstract: A new perspective on U.S.-Japanese relations in the interwar period emerges from this study of the Institute of Pacific Relations. Traditionally, the failure of the relationship has been seen through diplomatic tensions that lay outside IPR influence. This study of U.S.-Japanese cultural relations identifies two problems that led to rising tensions between Americans and Japanese within the IPR. First, nationalism on both sides underlay the internationalist goals of the IPR. Second, while IPR leaders believed that their research program would rationalize the Pacific, the irrationalities inherent in the research plan actually fueled tensions. In 1938 U.S.-Japanese relations within the IPR disintegrated when the Americans and Japanese came to verbal blows over an IPR study of the Sino-Japanese War. This collapse raises new questions about the meaning of internationalism in the interwar world.
Globalizing the History of Science
Philip F. Rehbock
Abstract: With only a few exceptions, twentieth-century historians of science treated their subject as a purely Western phenomenon. History of science courses and their textbooks rarely took a global approach. In the past few years, however, there have been encouraging signs of a shift toward “world history of science,” with increasing attention being given both to non-Western scientific traditions and to the export of Western science to non-Western countries. The success of this shift hinges on the availability of competent, engaging textbooks for undergraduate survey courses in the history of science. Among recent contributions, Science and Technology in World History: An Introduction, by James E. McClellan III and Harold Dorn, is especially promising.
Linda S. Frey and Marsha L. Frey. The History of Diplomatic Immunity.
Reviewed by Hal M. Friedman
Linda Grant De Pauw. Battle Cries and Lullabies: Women in War from Prehistory to the Present.
Reviewed by Merry Wiesner-Hanks
David Christian. Inner Eurasia from Prehistory to the Mongol Empire.
Reviewed by Peter Jackson
Samuel M. Wilson. The Emperor’s Giraffe, and Other Stories of Cultures in Contact.
Reviewed by Philip Y. Nicholson
Bella Vivante, ed. Women’s Roles in Ancient Civilizations: A Reference Guide.
Reviewed by Rhiannon Evans
Christopher Ehret. An African Classical Age: Eastern and Southern Africa in World History, 1000 B.C. to 400 A.D.
Reviewed by Graham Connah
Torbjorn L. Knutsen. The Rise and Fall of World Orders.
Reviewed by James Muldoon
Frank Lestringant. Cannibals: The Discovery and Representation of the Cannibal from Columbus to Jules Verne.
Reviewed by Ramona Fernandez
John Gascoigne. Science in the Service of Empire: Joseph Banks, the British State and the Uses of Science in the Age of Revolution.
Reviewed by Philip K. Wilson
Leonard Blussé and Femme Gastra, eds. On the Eighteenth Century as a Category of Asian History: Van Leur in Retrospect.
Reviewed by Anthony Reid
W. Jeffrey Bolster. Black Jacks: African American Seamen in the Age of Sail.
Reviewed by Craig T. Marin
John K. Marsh. The African People in the Global Village: An Introduction to Pan African Studies.
Reviewed by George Ayittey
Wilson J. Moses. Afrotopia: The Roots of African American Popular History.
Reviewed by Gerald Early
Wilson J. Moses. Afrotopia: The Roots of African American Popular History.
Reviewed by Molefi Kete Asante
Marysa Navarro and Virginia Sánchez Korrol, with Kecia Ali. Women in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Reviewed by Joel S. Cleland
Julia Clancy-Smith and Frances Gouda, eds. Domesticating the Empire: Race, Gender, and Family Life in French and Dutch Colonialism.
Reviewed by Katherine Lynch
Ian Tyrrell. The Gardens of the Gods: Californian-Australian Environmental Reform, 1860-1930.
Reviewed by Michael Magliari
Robert Aldrich and John Connell, eds. The Last Colonies.
Reviewed by Andrew Porter
Bruce Cumings. Parallax Visions: Making Sense of American-East Asian Relations at the End of the Century.
Reviewed by Frank Tipton
George B. N. Ayittey. Africa in Chaos.
Reviewed by John K. Marah
Elazar Barkan and Marie-Denise Shelton, eds. Borders, Exiles, Diasporas.
Reviewed by Rob Wilson
Patrick Brogan. World Conflicts: A Comprehensive Guide to World Strife since 1945.
Reviewed by Michael Boden