Journal of World History, vol. 24, no. 1 (2013)


Indian Spices and Roman “Magic” in Imperial and Late Antique Indomediterranea
Elizabeth Ann Pollard, 1

As Roman-Indian trade adjusted in Late Antiquity from its height in the first and second centuries C.E., Indian trade goods became associated with magic as real connections between Rome and their Indian point of origin faded. This article explores trade relations among Rome, India, and Meroitic Kush; literary evidence of magical amulets and spells, which imbue with magical powers substances that were available in the Mediterranean only through long-distance trade; and the Roman-Indian slave trade. Previous scholarship has emphasized the Persian and Egyptian influences on Greco-Roman magic; this article, however, demonstrates the Indian influence on magical concepts at Rome and the disconnect between long-distance economic exchange and popular ideas about goods traded.

Religious Intercrossing in Late Antique Eurasia: Loss, Corruption, and Canon Formation
Paul C. Dilley, 25

Mani, a prophet from third-century Iran who founded the first world religion, famously claimed that he alone wrote down his own revelations, in contrast to Jesus, Zoroaster, and Buddha, who had left this task to their disciples. Although this assertion is clearly polemical, it does echo a concern shared by a number of traditions across Late Antique Eurasia, from Rome to China. Judaism, Christianity, Zoroastrianism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Confucianism all sought to consolidate the authoritative teaching of their founders in response to the perceived threat of loss or corruption, sometimes under the patronage of regional or local authorities. This widespread appearance of canons, occurring over the long period of Late Antiquity (second to sixth centuries C.E.), was sometimes based on the belief that oral traditions were particularly vulnerable and had to be fixed as texts, but there was also anxiety over the destruction and falsification of written documents. In conclusion, this article suggests that this striking development reflects a neglected mode of cultural exchange in Late Antiquity driven by members of court society, including religious experts such as Mani. Their activity within a network of courts across Eurasia, all connected indirectly even if there was no direct exchange between the ends, facilitated the gradual intercrossing of religious ideals and practices, such as the goal of consolidating founders’ teachings.

Revisionist Study of Cross-Cultural Commercial Competition on the Vietnam Coastline in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries and Its Wider Implications
Kenneth R. Hall, 71

New archaeological discoveries since the 1990s mandate the rereading of primary sources that have been foundational to the understanding of pre-1500 Asian history. While this study is specific to the revisionist history of fifteenth-century Vietnam, it has wider regional and international implications, notably as the new evidence necessitates the rethinking of Indian Ocean networking prior to the Portuguese seizure of Melaka in 1511. This study evaluates the rise and fall of the Champa coastline of southern and central Vietnam, where a series of ports were the major Indian Ocean route stopovers between the Straits of Melaka and South China’s ports from earliest times until the Vietnamese Dai Viet polity (using new gunpowder weaponry) defeated the Chams in 1471 and temporarily recentered the international maritime passageway stopover on the Vietnam coastline in Dai Viet’s Red River delta ports. This study also addresses recent scholarship that has promoted the South China Sea passageway as an “Asian Mediterranean.”

Law in China or Conquest in the Americas: Competing Constructions of Political Space in the Early Modern Ottoman Empire
Baki Tezcan, 107

This study relates two Ottoman books from the 1580s, the New Report (Hadîth-i Nev) on the conquest and colonization of the Americas by the Spaniards and the Law-Book of China (Terjüme-i Qânûn-nâme-i Chîn ve Khıtây ve Khotan), to contemporary Ottoman politics and to each other, arguing that there were competing constructions of political space in the early modern Ottoman Empire. The Law-Book of China represents a constitutionalist political view aimed at limiting the powers of the monarch and asserted by a traditionalist argument based on an invented tradition, which claims that the laws enacted by the founding fathers were meant to be for posterity. The New Report adopts an experientialist approach, making a case for experience that leads to knowledge and for boldness that leads to conquest and represents a royalist response to the constutionalist view articulated in the Law-Book of China.

Tough Choices: Grappling with Famine in Qing China, the British Empire, and Beyond
Kathryn Edgerton-Tarpley, 135

This article explores how cultural constructions of famine causation and famine victims in nineteenth-century China and Britain forged radically different state and societal responses to mass starvation. It goes on to demonstrate that at the precise moment when Britain began to eschew the laissez-faire approach to famine that it had implemented in nineteenth-century India and Ireland in favor of a more humanitarian famine policy, a combination of internal and external pressures forced Chinese policy makers to call into question the high priority that relieving famine traditionally had been given by the late imperial state.


Mark B. Tauger. Agriculture in World History
reviewed by Mark D. Hersey, 177

Jack S. Levy and William R. Thompson. The Arc of War: Origins, Escalation, and Transformation
reviewed by Kevin W. Farrell, 179

Adam M. Schor. Theodoret’s People: Social Networks and Religious Conflict in Late Roman Syria
reviewed by Nathanael Andrade, 182

Jim Masselos, ed. The Great Empires of Asia
reviewed by George Kallander, 186

Sarah Foot. Æthelstan: The First King of England
reviewed by Tracey-Anne Cooper, 189

Jan Bažant, Nina Bažantová, and Frances Starn, eds. The Czech Reader: History, Culture, and Politics
reviewed by David Doellinger, 192

Nicholas Canny and Philip Morgan, eds. The Oxford Handbook of the Atlantic World, 1450–1850
reviewed by William F. Connell, 194

Sheldon Pollock, ed. Forms of Knowledge in Early Modern Asia: Explorations in the Intellectual History of India and Tibet, 1500–1800
reviewed by Knut A. Jacobsen, 198

Daniel K. Richter. Before the Revolution: America’s Ancient Pasts
reviewed by Marsha Hamilton, 201

Wayne E. Lee. Barbarians and Brothers: Anglo-American Warfare, 1500–1865
reviewed by Hugh Dubrulle, 203

Frederic J. Baumgartner. Declaring War in Early Modern Europe
reviewed by Brian Sandberg, 206

John Tutino. Making a New World: Founding Capitalism in the Bajío and Spanish North America
reviewed by Nathaniel Millett, 210

Tonio Andrade. Lost Colony: The Untold Story of China’s First Great Victory over the West
reviewed by Xiaorong Han, 212

Fabio López Lázaro, ed. The Misfortunes of Alonso Ramírez: The True Adventures of a Spanish American with 17th-Century Pirates
reviewed by John T. Grider, 216

Sophus A. Reinert. Translating Empire: Emulation and the Origins of Political Economy
reviewed by Heather Welland, 218

Mariza de Carvalho Soares. Jerry D. Metz, trans. People of Faith: Slavery and African Catholics in Eighteenth-Century Rio de Janeiro
reviewed by Donald Ramos, 221

Teddy Sim Y. H. Portuguese Enterprise in the East: Survival in the Years 1707–1757
reviewed by Jorge Flores, 225

Lyman L. Johnson. Workshop of Revolution: Plebeian Buenos Aires and the Atlantic World, 1776–1810
reviewed by Jonathan Hagood, 228

M. Hakan Yavuz, ed., with Peter Sluglett. War and Diplomacy: The Russo-Turkish War of 1877–1878 and the Treaty of Berlin
reviewed by Michael M. Gunter, 231

Thomas Barfield. Afghanistan: A Cultural and Political History
reviewed by Ali Imen, 234

Ziad Fahmy. Ordinary Egyptians: Creating the Modern Nation through Popular Culture
reviewed by Wilson Chacko Jacob, 237

Zhongping Chen. Modern China’s Network Revolution: Chambers of Commerce and Sociopolitical Change
in the Early Twentieth Century

reviewed by Tze-Ki Hon, 240

Michael A. Reynolds. Shattering Empires: The Clash and Collapse of the Ottoman and Russian Empires, 1908–1918
reviewed by James Meyer, 242

Charles Townshend. Desert Hell: The British Invasion of Mesopotamia
reviewed by Saad Abi-Hamad, 245

Michael Cullen Green. Black Yanks in the Pacific: Race in the Making of American Military Empire after World War II
reviewed by Monica Kim, 247

David Kinkela. DDT and the American Century: Global Health, Environmental Politics, and the Pesticide That Changed the World
reviewed by Gregory Wilson, 250

Ezra F. Vogel. Deng Xiaoping and the Transformation of China
reviewed by Yusheng Yao 253