Journal of World History, vol. 19, no. 1 (2008)


Herodotus and Sima Qian: History and the Anthropological Turn in Ancient Greece and Han China
Siep Stuurman, 1-40

This article presents a comparative investigation of Herodotus and Sima Qian with a focus on their ethnographies of nomadic peoples. Both historians included geography and ethnography in their works because their societies had reached a stage when it was no longer possible to write their histories without taking the measure of their wider environment. The author posits that frontiers are not just locations of “othering” but also zones of creative interaction and regions in which it is possible to take the first steps toward an appraisal of the rationality of foreign cultures. Herodotus and Sima Qian combined an incipient cultural relativism with notions of common humanity, resulting in an anthropological turn, the representation of the cultures of “others” as autonomous systems that must be judged on their own terms. Their anthropological turn is connected to their conceptions of empire and the temporalities underpinning their histories.

When Greek Was an African Language: The Role of Greek Culture in Ancient and Medieval Nubia
Stanley M. Burstein, 41-61

The Nubian encounter with Greek language began in the third century B.C.E. and lasted until the fifteenth century C.E. During the Hellenistic and Roman periods, Nubian interest in Greek was pragmatic, since the Greek language was used primarily as a diplomatic tool for dealing with Greco-Roman Egypt. During the Middle Ages, however, Greek became integral to Nubian culture as the language of government and Nubian Christianity. This article traces the history of Greek language in Nubia and analyzes its changing function in ancient and medieval Nubian culture.

“Pygmies” of the Far North
Kirsten A. Seaver, 63-87

A recurring issue in discussions about the medieval Norse in Greenland is the name Skræling(j)ar (Skrælings) for the natives whom the eleventh-century Norse encountered
in North America. Grappling with this problem involves confronting the nineteenth-century assumption that medieval people believed in a fl at world. The fact that medieval people, including the Norse, took for granted a spherical world, on whose unexplored fringes lived the monster races described in the medieval Christian canon, is the key both to understanding how the Norse saw their North American experiences and to the interpretation of oddities in several medieval and early Renaissance texts
and maps.

Caught in the Storm of Progress: Timoteos Saprichian, Ethiopia, and the Modernity of Christianity
James de Lorenzi, 89-114

This article examines how European concepts of progress and race transformed relations between non-European Christians in the nineteenth century. The travel narrative of Timoteos Saprichian, an Armenian visitor to Ethiopia from the Ottoman Empire, suggests that some Orthodox Christians set themselves apart from their African coreligionists by using new ideas about the hierarchy of human communities to reorder the Christian ecumene. The article concludes by using Walter Benjamin’s model of progress to understand changes in religious identity during the imperial age.


Thomas T. Allsen. The Royal Hunt in Eurasion History
reviewed by Charles V. Reed, 115

Harvey Amani Whitfield. Blacks on the Border: The Black Refugees in British North America, 1815–1860
reviewed by Douglas M. Haynes, 117

Krista O’Donnell, Renate Bridenthal, and Nancy Reagin, eds. The Heimat Abroad: The Boundaries of Germanness
reviewed by David Wetzel, 119

Mansel G. Blackford. Pathways to the Present: U.S. Development and Its Consequences in the Pacific
reviewed by James P. Kraft, 121

John Gillingham. European Integration 1950–2003: Superstate or New Market Economy?
reviewed by Jeffrey Sommers, 123