Journal of World History, vol. 16, no. 3 (2005)


Globalization and the Great Convergence: Rethinking World History in the Long Term
David Northrup
pp. 249–267
Abstract: About a thousand years ago, the forces drawing people closer together became more powerful than those fostering ever-increasing cultural diversity. From that beginning, this “great convergence” has proceeded unsteadily to the globalization of the present day. Proceeding from this premise, this immodest essay explores the value of long-term thinking for understanding world history. Topics discussed include the spread and decline of languages, the virtues and faults of empires, the periodization of history, and the emergence of world history as a discipline.

Malaria and the Peopling of Early Tropical Africa
James L. A. Webb Jr.
pp. 269–291
Abstract: This essay synthesizes research findings in the fields of microbiology, archaeology, and archaeobotany to explore the significance of malaria on the peopling of early tropical Africa before the Common Era. It contends that the human genetic responses to malarial infections in early tropical Africa constitute the earliest known chapters in the human experience with infectious disease. It also advances a new interpretation of the colonization of much of tropical Africa during the demographic processes known as the “Bantu expansions” (fifth to first millennia B.C.E.). It argues against diffusionist theories and in favor of a more integrated theory of the peopling of the continent.

Dying for the Dead: Sati in Universal Context
Jörg Fisch
pp. 293–325
Abstract: Sati, the custom of burning widows alive with the bodies of their husbands, is not a phenomenon unique to India, if its function (and not merely its appearance) is taken into account. All over the world, in many societies where there is widespread belief in the continuation of an individual’s position in the hereafter, the social and political order has been confirmed and strengthened by the provision of attendants for deceased persons: at their funerals, the deceased were followed, either voluntarily or involuntarily, by their subordinates, who either were killed or killed themselves in public rituals.

Indigenous Encounters with Christian Missionaries in China and West Africa, 1800–1920: A Comparative Study
David Lindenfeld
pp. 327–369
Abstract: This article seeks to develop a vocabulary and conceptual framework for the discussion of cross-cultural religious encounters. The ubiquity of Christian missionaries in diverse parts of the world provides a basis for such an enterprise. For China, four patterns are postulated: selective inculturation, resistance, conversion, and selective acculturation toWestern secular knowledge with the aid of mission schools. ForWest Africa, the patterns are less distinct. There was less resistance and greater openness to Christianity, reflecting a different relationship between the sacred and the secular than in China. The article concludes by finding the theories of Jack Goody (on literacy) and Carl Jung (on introversion and extroversion) to be heuristically valuable.


David Christian. Maps of Time: An Introduction to Big History
Reviewed by Jeremy Black
pp. 371–373

Gabriel Palmer-Fernandez, ed. Encyclopedia of Religion and War
Reviewed by Jeremy Black
pp. 373–374

James H. Sweet. Recreating Africa: Culture, Kinship, and Religion in the African-Portuguese World, 1441–1770
Reviewed by Rachel Dowty
pp. 375–377

Eric Hinderaker and Peter C. Mancall. At the Edge of Empire: The Backcountry in British North America
Reviewed by Gray H. Whaley
pp. 377–378

Sylviane A. Diouf, ed. Fighting the Slave Trade: West African Strategies
Reviewed by Rachel Dowty
pp. 379–381

C. A. Bayly. The Birth of the Modern World, 1780–1914: Global Connections and Comparisons
Reviewed by J. R. McNeill
pp. 381–383

Willard Sunderland. Taming the Wild Field: Colonization and Empire on the Russian Steppe
Reviewed by Louise McReynolds
pp. 383–386

Jeffrey W. Cody. Exporting American Architecture, 1870–2000
Reviewed by James M. Lindgren
pp. 386–389