Global History: A selected and commented bibliography

The Network of Global and World History Organisations (NOGWHISTO) was accepted as an affiliated organization of the International Committee of Historical Sciences (CISH) in 2010 at the Intern. Congress of Historical Sciences. In 2015  the bureau of NOGWHISTO has initiated a bibliographical overview on the subject matter, following its core aim to promote world and global history and all other forms dealing with shared and entangled histories at various scales.

The initiative picks up then tradition of earlier ICHS congresses when national committees submitted every five or ten years a volume with a commented bibliography on achievements of the respective academic community. Alongside with the International Historical Bibliography these reference works were a way to inform scholarly communities on the other side of the global iron curtain and in the ‘global south’ where low budgets of university libraries did not allow for broad acquisition. These bibliographical works became instrumental in creating a sense of belonging to a common cause and they had therefore to be as compete and exhaustive as possible.

Today, in times of connected electronic catalogues and when almost everything can be found via the Internet – if not the e-publication itself at least the catalogue entry in a faraway library – there is much less a need for a complete bibliography of all the publications coming out of the different contexts, and with the sheer number of such publications the ambition of completeness becomes more and more an illusion since somewhere in the world someone will publish a new document just the day after the fixed deadline.

But what is eventually much more important than completeness is the orientation given by specialists in the ever-increasing flood of information. The question of which is the better scenario – to be hunted by interlibrary loan or to buy at websites where a scholarly article costs US$40 – is of urgent interest not only for many individual researchers but also for academic institutions lacking the necessary resources to simply buy everything. And we should not forget students who are looking for guidance on where to start reading and what.

There exist a lot of selected bibliographies and some identify the most relevant literature – relevant to the editor or publisher. Most of them, however, relate to either a specific topic or to a university course or a research project of limited scope. In addition, many focus on literature in the English language only and make availability from US- or UK-based publishers a key criterion. This does not mean that there are no important and prominent publications in world/global history written in the US or UK – after all English has become a sort of lingua franca among historians of the global – but it does not mean either that publications in English are the only ones representative of the scholarly discourse and even more so of the perception of global history in the various countries across the globe.

Many historians working on global processes insist that multi-perspectivity is crucial for understanding the past, as there are arguments underlining the possible existence of multiple modernities and the explanatory power of increasing interaction and mutual constituency between different pathways to political, socioeconomic, or cultural regimes. Such paradigms inspire the search for more empirical evidence and convincing conceptualization coming from different parts of the global community of historians.

We therefore thought it important to start an endeavour that will be elaborated upon in the future and that demonstrates the variety of historical interpretations arising out of different practices of big, world, and global history. The regional member organizations of NOGWHISTO have agreed to review the literature produced in their respective areas for the period 2010-2015 and to select the most important contributions.

Currently we work on the revision and extension of this first edition, the first of its kind.