A Survey of World History Studies: Theory, Methodology and Networks

This paper will explore the recent theoretical and methodological approaches to World history. Though historians and social scientists increasingly embrace the notion of a global history, there is no generally accepted theoretical or methodological paradigm for these studies. Contemporary research has explored the topic in a variety of ways, including world-systems analysis, globalization, and social movement, transnational and network theories. While these works employ similar terminology, they use and analyze the terms in varied ways. There continues to be a general lack of consensus on what World History means in practice. This essay will examine how different methods have been utilized, where they intersect, and how they embrace the notion of a global history. In surveying recent scholarship, this essay asks the following questions: Is there a world history? What are the similar methodological trends between these variegated studies? How are spaces, events or processes used by authors? How have authors attempted to transcend local-focused studies? What levels or units of analysis do authors apply to their work? How do authors map historical networks, relationships and interactions? By contrasting these diverse approaches in theory and methodology this essay provides a synopsis of contemporary discourse on the subject as well as offering commentary on future research in the field of World History.