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Editor's Message

Marc Jason Gilbert


     This issue features a Forum and articles that offer an opportunity for teacher/scholars and scholar/teachers to engage the origin, nature and meaning not only of world history, but one of its driving engines, the World History Association. It opens with a Forum originally prepared as a panel for the World History Association's 2010 annual meeting in San Diego. When the panel's organizer, Trevor Getz, wrote to World History Connected suggesting that the papers might be suitable for the journal, it occurred to me that the papers together naturally formed a Forum which could not only serve the journal, but advance the field through several "follow on" activities that are discussed in Trevor Getz's introduction to the Forum and in the Forum's final element, a summary analyses of the other Forum papers suitable for use in the classroom. Both invite world historians at all levels of instruction to join in this discussion.

     The Forum begins with the assertion by Getz that "the World History Association largely emerged from the liberal intellectualism and expanded worldviews of US-based and to some degree European historians in the post-WWII era," but that these scholars consciously strove to expand the scope of history to include far more than just the world Hegel saw as "historical." He notes that "to some critics this body remained exclusionary rather than inclusive, and representative only of an elite, North American academy," yet observes that "a number of world historians have gone out of their way to open discussions with their peers – professionally trained historians - from and around the world." This development led to the World History Association joining Asian, African, and European global history organizations in the formation of the Network of Global and World History Organizations (NOGWHISTO). So whose history is world history? Getz posed the key question: "Is it possible within the disciplinary frameworks of "History" to write and teach world histories that better serve the needs of groups other than the wealthy and privileged, both past and present, and if so what are the steps towards doing so?" Reflections on the production of world history and answers to Getz's question offered by world historians from several cultures and intellectual loyalties comprise the remainder of the Forum.

     Three contributions to the Featured Articles section further explore the nature and meaning of world history and the concept of 'Whose History Is It?" Tanya Storch elaborates on a topic raised in the Forum by demonstrating through comparative analysis how historians may err when ignoring a specific culture's past when examining its present. She posits that the current trend toward tracing the origins of contemporary Chinese restrictions on religious freedom to Communist doctrine ignores pre-Communist political doctrine reflects traditional Chinese concepts of the role of the state in society in terms of limits on religious freedom. Robert Strayer, whose comments close the Forum, offers reflections on the centrality of historical context as revealed by themes in the teaching of 20th Century world history. John Murnane explores the issue of formulating an "inclusive view of humanity" through historically informed discussions of genetics and music. In this directly observes that world historians all too rarely employ science as a touchstone for survey courses. Eric Vincent closes this section of the journal with an examination of the use of discussion-based classroom activities and other active learning strategies employed in his Advanced Placement World History survey, but which are applicable to regular courses, or any course in history for that matter.

     A full complement of reviews follows, including World History Connected's first website review. As is fitting for this issue's appearance during "Black History Month" in the United States, three of the books reviewed focus on the Atlantic and touch upon the Atlantic slave trade. Another addresses the issues of Empires in World History via a title that reminds us that powerful states rise and fall as the result of the advice provided by powerful "advisors." Other reviews draw attention to publications examining world historical patterns, such as technology, globalization and the 'Clash of Civilizations."

     The editorial staff, as always, urges readers to offer feedback on existing features and offer original ideas that can keep this journal fresh and useful. For this issue in particular, we are hoping teachers at all level of instruction contribute comments on the Forum that we can incorporate in subsequent efforts to keep that particular discussion before us.

Best always,

Marc Jason Gilbert

Marc Jason Gilbert is Professor of History and National Endowment for the Humanities Endowed Chair in World History at Hawai'i Pacific University. He can be reached at


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