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Open Access Publications from the University of California

UC World History Workshop

UC Berkeley


The UC World History Workshop multi-campus research and conference group funded by the UC President's Office operated from 2001 to 2011. Building on the work of the earlier Modernity's Histories conference group since 1996, its goal was to help shape the new emerging field of world history by integrating the best methods and epistemological insights from historians and historical social scientists with empirical and interpretive historical research. The Workshop concentrated on furthering graduate students' work and that of faculty working in or moving into the field. In addition to its two major annual conferences, which rotated among the UC campuses, the group sponsored workshops and presentations. A record of its activities remains at

UC World History Workshop

There are 7 publications in this collection, published between 2000 and 2010.
Essays and Positions (2)

Modernity’s Histories: Rethinking the Long Nineteenth Century, 1750-1950

The paper suggests that the UC Multi-Campus Research Group in World History should consider undertaking a collaborative research project aimed at rethinking the history of the long nineteenth century in comparative world historical perspective, suggesting some reasons why demarcating a research area on this scale might be productive, as well as some broad topics within it that appear to be potentially of interest. These days for a variety of reasons we are suspicious of large scale historical narratives and the uses to which they have been put. But faute de mieux, we continue to frame our work in terms of the dichotomous division between the West and the Rest, often without our being aware of it. It is the author's contention that by neglecting the larger frames in which our work might be inserted, we deprive it of larger resonances that will enable us to connect with broader audiences. Whether we like it or not, big narratives will inevitably be invoked by readers as they seek to render intelligible our smaller scale histories. There is therefore a compelling need for a self-consciously comparative world historical approach.

Why the nineteenth century? Because it seems to be the piece that has thus far been left out of the rethinking of modern world history. Little noticed until now, the outlines a new world historical framework for the early modern period has begun to emerge. Similarly, the outlines of a global framework for the history of the twentieth century can be perceived (though here for a variety of reasons the crystal ball remains cloudier). The paper explains, however, that despite major progress, both enterprises seem at the moment to be stuck, and unlikely to progress until the job of inscribing nineteenth century history into world history has progressed. The nineteenth century is key. Yet despite a lot of research, we’re still far from being able to devise a truly world-centered historical framework for the nineteenth century. Accordingly, it is time for scholarly energy to be focused on integrating this new work into a self-consciously world historical narrative framework.

Born Again: Globalization’s Sixteenth-Century Origins (Asian/Global versus European Dynamics)

A revised version of this paper appears in the Pacific Economic Review, 2008. By courtesy of Wiley Interscience and authors, an online version of the Pacific Economic Review paper is accessible at no charge at: . Please refer to and cite the published version!

Globalization began when all heavily-populated land masses began interacting – both directly with each other and indirectly via other land masses – in a sustained manner with deep consequences for all interacting regions; global interactions emerged during the 16th century when modern globalization was born. Dynamism emanating from within China played a pivotal role, while Europeans were (crucial) global intermediaries. Valid hypotheses concerning the emergence and sustenance of such a profound phenomenon as 'globalization' must accommodate evidence from numerous disciplinary debates. Any attempt to limit discussion of globalization's birth to strictly economic issues alone – such as the 1820's price-convergence hypothesis of O'Rourke and Williamson – are doomed. Instead, the central role of global economic history – and Chinese economic history in particular – becomes salient when located in a global/historical context that draws upon all disciplines.

Working Papers (5)

Gender and Japanese Immigrants to Peru, 1899 through World War II

This paper explores gender relations in the Japanese Peruvian community during its first 45 years of existence, with attention to gendered state policies in both Japan and Peru that affected the Nikkei community in Peru. Relying primarily on oral interviews, it follows Nikkei men and women's own descriptions of their lives. Japanese cultural norms shaped patterns of migration, labor and family for emigrants to Peru, though late-Meiji ideology about women's role found relatively less echo than older rural patterns. As Japanese immigrants' labor patterns shifted, women found new roles, such as in store management, though they remained nearly exclusively responsible for child care and the reproduction of families. The relative scarcity of Japanese women in Peru had some effect on marriage and remarriage patterns, but ethnic associations and public sociability remained primarily male spheres in Peru.

The Early-Modern Jesuit Missions as a Global Movement

The traditional historiography of the early-modern Jesuits, ironically, has relied on the order's perceived centralization in order to treat the actual missions in a decentralized fashion. Under the assumption that the impressive normative documents of the Society immediately corresponded to a system of regional missions directed effectively from Rome, historians have too often been content to write local studies of what they assumed to be a global phenomenon. By contesting the Society’s seamless centralization, this project argues for the importance of tracing non-normative, horizontal connections between regional missions with the ultimate goal of an accurate global history of the Jesuit institutions. The vast distances separating the missions led to logistical problems of transportation and communication incompatible with the ideal view of the Society of Jesus as a tightly centralized and smoothly running military machine. This paper first summarizes my findings by describing the variety of connections unmediated by Rome that sprung up between the missions in Germany, Mexico, and China. It then discusses the role world-systems analysis has played in inspiring this research. Traditional accounts of the Jesuit missions devote discrete chapters to each region, without showing how they all fit together. Reading economic history encouraged the pursuit of connections between these regional missions. This paper concludes with a consideration of two alternate historiographical frameworks for non-economic global phenomena: institutional world history and globalization theory.

The Economics of Migrant Transport between Europe and the United States, 1900-1914

Early twentieth century migration across the North Atlantic was a human drama, a major international demographic shift, and a massive historical experiment in ethnic transformation during a period of unprecedented globalization. It was also a far-reaching multinational business containing both risks and rewards for its three fundamental participants: the movers, the moved, and the sovereign authorities on either side of the borders being traversed. Prior studies have not adequately explained this business or appreciated its significance.

Most young, single, healthy, and unskilled lower-to-middle income males living in emigration-prone regions of Europe in the early 1900s could legally and readily access relatively attractive employment opportunities in America, but did not do so, and because of the uncertain realization of the rewards, not because of the upfront costs of pursuing them. In general, the minority of Europeans willing and able to countenance the risks of migration, especially the risk of becoming jobless in an American economic slump, and to arrange, through kinship chains, for dependent family members to follow them, were the ones who emigrated. Strategies of passenger shipping firms were also dominated by risk management (not fare reductions, cost minimization, or short-term profit maximization). Government migration policies emphasized cautionary concerns as well, particularly the practical challenges of crowd management.

These various strategies for coping with the risks of mass migration overlapped more than they conflicted with each other. Interwoven strategies for managing the risks of early twentieth century transatlantic migration help account for the broad complexity of that human relocation, and to reveal the underlying motivations and processes of modern long-distance migration more generally.

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