Taking China out of Premodern Global History (Part 2)
- 13 February 2019
- Johan Huizinga
2311 VL Leiden
‘China’ is a problematical concept for the premodern period because the name unavoidably invokes the fixity of a modern nation-state that maps poorly onto the various and ever changing political formations of earlier centuries. Global history (in contrast to World History) may offer solutions for how to address the premodern era without reliance on anachronistic national frames. The concept of technologies, broadly understood, invites us to trace the use of practices and ideas regardless of political or ‘ethnic’ boundaries, which in turn necessitates reconfiguration of the region under consideration, in this case as Eastern Eurasia. This paper takes technologies of movement – specifically oceangoing ships active in the South China Seas – as cases through which to reframe our understanding of premodern Eastern Eurasia with interactions and relationships at the core of a non-sinocentric analysis.
Naomi Standen is the first non-Europeanist appointed as a Professor of Medieval History in the UK. Herresearch started from a fascination with the ground-level functioning of borderlands, especially in the Liao (907-1125), and from there has expanded in both time and space. She works with texts, with archaeologists and with medievalists studying all parts of the globe. Publications include Unbounded loyalty: frontier crossings in Liao China (Hawai’i, 2007), and The Global Middle Ages (ed. with Catherine Holmes, the Past and Present supplement for 2018). She is writing a global history of eastern Eurasia between the 7th and the 14th centuries.