Journal of World History, vol. 14, no. 4 (2003)


World History in Context
David Christian
pp. 437-458
Abstract: World history can provide a context for regional and national histories, but what is the context for world history itself? If world history is about the history of human beings, asking this question means asking about the place of human beings within modern knowledge. While most traditional cosmologies put humans at the center of the picture, the temporal and spatial scales of modern science are so vast that humans can seem to vanish entirely. Yet if we order the contents of our universe by complexity rather than by size or longevity, things look different. This paper explores arguments suggesting that human societies and their evolution may be among the most complex objects available for scientific study. Such conclusions hint at the significance of world history beyond the history profession and also suggest the extraordinary difficulty of the challenges world historians face.

What Happened to the Ancient Libyans? Chasing Sources across the Sahara from Herodotus to Ibn Khaldun
Richard Smith
pp. 459-500
Abstract: Determining group identity in the ancient world, especially when peoples were lumped under the constructs of tribe and ethnicity, was based on point of view, and labeling was a haphazard process. A case in point is the fate of those North African ancient writers called Libyans. Did their descendants become the people Arab writers referred to as Sanhaja and Zanata? Despite a significant degree of cultural discontinuity, the answer seems to be yes. A principal issue is the reliability of sources, which are markedly better for the era of Arab domination than for the ancient period.


The Feudal Mutation: Military and Economic Transformations of the Ethnosphere in the Tenth to Thirteenth Centuries
R. J. Barendse
pp. 503-529
Abstract: This article argues that much of the comparative literature on feudalism suffers from two problems: first, a mistaken identification of what constitutes European feudalism, in particular an emphasis on feudalism as a merger of Roman and Germanic elements as well as a mistaken stress on manorial production; second, a focus on ontological concepts, that is, concepts existing outside of history and not subject to change of significance in the course of history, thus the state and the law. This article makes a case that if we shed those ontological concepts and the mistaken identification of what European feudalism is, we can discern many similar (and, it is contended, similar because they are linked rather than being merely comparable) changes in the ethnosphere in the tenth to thirteenth centuries, the ethnosphere being a linked Asian, European, and African complex of class societies based on agrarian production and nomadic production for the market, primarily in the context of nuclear families.

A “Feudal Mutation”? Conceptual Tools and Historical Patterns in World History
Stephen Morillo
pp. 531-550
Abstract: This article argues against the claims made in R. J. Barendse’s article “The Feudal Mutation.” It shows first that in philosophical and historiographical terms, feudalism is a term with no agreed definition that is being rejected by European medievalists, so that reviving it in a world historical context will confuse more than enlighten. Second, it argues that the historical process supposedly described by the term feudal mutation did not happen. There was no Eurasian “warhorse revolution” in the period 900–1200, no consistent change in patterns of agrarian production, and no demonstrable link between these two patternless phenomena.


Martha Lamberg-Karlovsky, ed. Breakout: The Origins of Civilization
Reviewed by Donald B. Wagner
pp. 551-553

Andrew Dalby. Dangerous Tastes: The Story of Spices
Reviewed by Hansjörg Küster
pp. 553-555

Beatrice K. Otto. Fools Are Everywhere: The Court Jester around the World
Reviewed by Barbara Bennett Peterson
pp. 555-559

Hernán Horna. La Indianidad: The Indigenous World before Latin Americans
Reviewed by Alexander S. Dawson
pp. 559-561

Arnold J. Bauer. Goods, Power, History: Latin America’s Material Culture
Reviewed by Paul Gootenberg
pp. 561-563

Paul D. Buell and Eugene N. Anderson. A Soup for the Qan: Chinese Dietary Medicine of the Mongol Era as Seen in Hu Szu-Hui’s Yin-shan Cheng-Yao
Reviewed by Rachel Laudan
pp. 563-566

Scott Levi. The Indian Diaspora in Central Asia and Its Trade, 1550–1900
Reviewed by David Christian
pp. 566-568

Brett L. Walker. The Conquest of Ainu Lands: Ecology and Culture in Japanese Expansion, 1590–1800
Reviewed by Mark J. Hudson
pp. 568-570

Jacobus Elisa Johannes Capitein. The Agony of Asar: A Thesis on Slavery by the Former Slave Jacobus Elisa Johannes Capitein, 1717–1747
Robin Law and Paul Lovejoy, eds. The Biography of Mahommah Gardo Baquaqua: His Passage from Slavery to Freedom in Africa and America
Reviewed by Joseph E. Inikori
pp. 571-575

James C. Riley. Rising Life Expectancy: A Global History
Reviewed by George Dehner
pp. 575-577

Mike Davis. Late Victorian Holocausts: El Niño Famines and the Making of the Third World
Reviewed by Christopher Cottrell
pp. 577-579

A. W. Brian Simpson. Human Rights and the End of Empire: Britain and the Genesis of the European Convention
Reviewed by Gerhard Altmann
pp. 579-582

Index to Volume 14, p. 583