As this issue goes to press, the COVID-19 pandemic has proved to be a great disruptor of life in and out of academia: though trivial in terms of its global effects, it has contributed to the lateness of this number of the journal. However, it has not prevented this journal and others like it from ultimately gathering scholars and practitioners around a troubled world to address the continuing challenge of providing innovative research and the teaching of world history, such as the World History Bulletin’s “Teach in the Time of Corona,” (Spring/Summer 2020, Volume XXXVI, No. 1).
Pandemics have been addressed on many occasions by World History Connected and will be the subject of a future issue. Other future Forums (several articles addressing a single topic) currently under development are Latin America and the Caribbean, Empires, Sustainability, Maritime History, and South Asia. Individual articles on any subject germane to world history and ideas for future Forums are welcome at any time.
This issue’s topical Forum is devoted to exploring world history in a region, Southeast Asia, once neglected by, but now of increasing interest to, world historians for a variety of reasons, such as the global importance of its diverse Muslim population and the region’s growing recognition as a place where scholars and teachers have been able to identify world history processes and test new paradigms. The Forum is comprised of eight articles that offer fresh perspectives that are as important to the world history classroom as they are for researchers.
The first article, by Jennifer L. Gaynor, closely examines why the region has attracted less interest than other regions, including, but not limited to approaches that portray non-European history of the region as beginning with European “discovery,” a dated concept that nonetheless survives in textbooks and even in research regarding Southeast Asia. It then offers “an approach to Southeast Asia and its intra- and interregional maritime past focused on the agency of Southeast Asian mariners, who built networks of interaction in Southeast Asia and in transnational Asian spaces,” revealing the emergence of dynamic “shared social systems and similar political systems that were hierarchical and intensely competitive,” while fluid as dictated by circumstances.
The second and third articles undermine the tendency, again in both world history classrooms and academic work, to place South and Southeast Asia into separate silos. The second article, by Barbara Watson Andaya, does so by comparing gendered politics in the trans-regional Islamic South and Southeast Asian World. The third article by Ethan Hawkley, traces the joint rise of Islam and modernity in Southeast Asia through the stories of influential Muslims, and thus joins one of the most current topics in world history research, indigenous modernity, to one of the most successful means of introducing such concepts into the classroom—biography.
The fourth article, by Robert Y. Eng, explores the significance of both the reality and continuing memory of Chinese settlements on the water frontiers of Southeast Asia, in part by briefly referencing the life of Admiral Zheng familiar to most students of world history, but chiefly by expanding our understanding of Chinese maritime commerce and its impact in Southeast Asia.
The fifth and sixth articles revise our understanding of two trade networks. David R. Saunders demonstrates the active role of Sabah in the region’s larger commercial networks, while Rila Mukherjee challenges received wisdom regarding the importance of the Portuguese Melaka by testing it against the realities of the Bay of Bengal’s trade with that entrepôt.
The seventh and eighth articles illuminate the lived experience of 20th Century world through the arts and literature. The seventh article, by Jack A. Yeager, examines generational conflict, sexual and ethnic identity, anti-colonialism and revolution—as viewed through the lens of women writing in Vietnamese literature in French (and in English translation). The eighth article, by John Michael Swinbank analyses how French Indochina’s leading fine arts institution not only unwittingly trained the major artists of the Vietnamese revolution, but laid the foundations of Vietnamese revolutionary visual communication.
The Forum concludes with one of the best of World History Connected's topical annotated digital guides to resources in world history that here offers further support for research and teaching approaches to Southeast Asia in world history from the arts to patterns of trade, in addition to those resources found in the articles themselves. It opens with reference to an open-access, classroom-ready article by Craig Lockard that identifies several key themes that can serve as a means of integrating Southeast Asia into world history courses as more than a sideshow of marginal importance.
The Forum is followed by a rousing study of Jameel Haque of American intrigues in pre-war Iraq and the Ottoman empire that greatly expands our understanding of the role of entrepreneurial consuls as agents of empire.
The issue also features the second of the series of interviews with senior world historians. The interview subject on this occasion is Stanley Burstein, perhaps the senior-most historian of the classical world committed to serving research in, and the teaching of world history.
The issue concludes with 5 book reviews. The reviews address works on the conquest of the Mexica (Aztecs) and their cultural survival using indigenous (Nahuatl) sources; the evolution of the Silk Road and the origins of the related foods eaten every day all around the world; and a work that claims to encompass what “archaeologists have learned about lost warships, battles on the water, and the life and death of those caught up in those conflicts,” composed as a tour through an imaginary museum of underwater archaeology.” The final two reviews examine an edited collection on the rise of the Middle Classes in the Age of Empire that deliberately avoids Karl Marx’s focus on the means of production, and a classroom ready coursebook that offers an excellent synthesis of the latest scholarship on global environmental history offering a clear argument about how humans used, exploited, and degraded the environment that concludes with a warning of the consequences of the destruction of the natural world.
Throughout its fourteen-year old history, World History Connected has been devoted to research and the scholarship of teaching of world history. Its title reflects the journal’s commitment to assisting both scholars and practitioners to invigorate and expand the reach of research and teaching of world history. It guest editors and editorial staff include past (and now in-coming) presidents of the World History Association and award-winning history educators at all levels of instruction. The journal’s publisher, the University of Illinois Press, estimates that it currently serves 1.85 million discreet readers of at least two articles annually and receives 6 million visitors to its website. It welcomes submissions of articles and book reviews on any subject germane to world history including (a) essays on the state of the field; (b) case studies, or topical overviews which cross regional boundaries to examine such issues as gender, technology, demography, social structure, or political legitimacy; and (c) the evaluation of curriculum and innovative instructional methodology. The journal also seeks peer reviewers and scholars to review recently published titles in the field of world history. The journal is open-sourced (free): its staff and contributors are not compensated for their work, and it is funded by individual contributions and organizations committed to advancing its goals. It accepts no paid advertising.
All submissions must be prepared double spaced, with one-inch margins and subheads at the left-hand margins, with endnotes, a short biography of about 250 words (a feature of all WHC articles), a mailing address, and phone number. Length of submissions should be more than 3,000 words and less than 10,000 words with 6,000 the norm. Authors should read the full submission guidelines to avoid delays in sending their work out for peer review. The guidelines can be found at https://worldhistoryconnected.press.uillinois.edu/submissions.html. The journal is published 3 times annually (February June, and October). To submit an article, please send an abstract, draft, and or completed essay to the editor, Marc Jason Gilbert at firstname.lastname@example.org. Book review correspondence should be directed to Christine Skwiot, the journal’s Book Review editor, at Christine.Skwiot@mma.edu.
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