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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

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

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.

Cover page of Regional Foundations for Internationalism in the Ancient Near East:  The Case of Canaan

Regional Foundations for Internationalism in the Ancient Near East: The Case of Canaan


In the early 15th through 13th centuries BCE, the world of the Near East, from the Mediterranean to modern day Iran, was linked together in what historians today call the First International Age. Correspondence from that period found at El Amarna in Egypt and other sites in Mesopotamia and Anatolia details the diplomatic and economic exchanges between the “Great Powers” of the time (Babylon, Assyria, Mittani, Hatti, and Egypt), and contains letters from the Egyptian vassal kingdoms in the Levant, known as Canaan.

The complex diplomatic interchanges and active economic trade during this period were possible because of the status of Canaan as a series of semi-autonomous vassal states under the Egyptian empire. Canaan acted as the economic center for the entire region, linking the goods and kingdoms of southwest Asia, Africa, and southeastern Europe into a single trading system. Though under the nominal control of Egypt, Canaan served as neutral territory for all the powers, enabling complex political and diplomatic interchange throughout the region.

This paper explores the conditions within Canaan that allowed this system of exchange to flourish, and will show that a number of military, political, and cultural factors in Canaan, which were cultivated by the Egyptians, allowed the region to act as an international territory facilitating trade and political interaction between the Great Powers.

Cover page of The Early-Modern Jesuit Missions as a Global Movement

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.

Cover page of ‘A Man of Courage and Activity’: Thomas Tew and Pirate Settlements of the Indo-Atlantic Trade World, 1645-1730

‘A Man of Courage and Activity’: Thomas Tew and Pirate Settlements of the Indo-Atlantic Trade World, 1645-1730


Through a social biographical approach to an Anglo-American pirate, Thomas Tew, this paper attempts to situate pirates and piracy in their proper historical contexts, to demonstrate that the definition of "pirate" was an unstable and continually shifting category, and to establish that many pirates operated within cultural and social norms. The research presented here reveals how the sinews of empire were constructed from above by ruling elites, from below by colonial merchants and seamen, and from beyond by entities outside the control of the metropole, exposing the general processes and contested means by which the economic, social, and cultural frameworks of empire were formulated. Furthermore, juxtaposing North American colonies with settlements on Madagascar reveals the complex workings in multiple directions of early modern colonizing projects, and provides a comparative trans-regional perspective on the traditional exceptionalist narrative of early America. Finally, this paper attempts to remedy a gap in the scholarship between scholars of the Atlantic and Indian Ocean worlds, exposing some early modern interactions between these regions by tracking pirate settlements, their inhabitants and their sponsors over the course of the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries.

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

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.