James Millward, Professor of Intersocietal History at the Walsh School of Foreign Service and Department of History, Georgetown University
Paper Title: “Connectivity and Displacement in the World History Paradigm from the Big Bang to OBOR”
Paper Abstract: The field of “Big History” or “World History,” as recently invented and currently practiced, stresses connections and encounters between environments and people on a cosmic scale and over the very longue durée. Its ideological underpinnings as a counter-argument to anthropocentrism and the “clash of civilizations” discourse in a globalizing era are not hard to perceive. Yet the connections, exchanges, interactions, hybridizations and syncretisms implicitly celebrated in the World History grand narrative come at a cost. The occasion of the “Displacement and the Making of the Modern World” seminar and the current worldwide nativist reaction to “globalization” encourages a glass-half-empty look at displacement as the Dopplegänger of connectivity in world history, and especially in the silk road type historical phenomena that are the subject of the author’s current research.