Friday, March 17, 2006

An Emerging Consensus about World History?

William H. McNeill
University of Chicago
World History Connected 1.1 (2003)

Every scale of history requires teachers to leave things out. Only so can the past become manageable, meaningful, and interesting. But how to choose what to include and what to skip over? For national history the question is fairly easy: politics is what defines a nation, so acts of the national government take precedence; and social, economic, and cultural history can be fitted into the political narrative that holds everything else together. Detailed choices of what to include and exclude and how to evaluate the political record may still be difficult, but the basic frame and pattern of the national past remains political simply because that is what makes it an object of historical integration.

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