The Roots of Universal History: the Empire, the World, and the Historian (c. 200 BCE - 1681 CE)
|2021/2023||Daniele Miano||Associate professor||University of Oslo (UiO)|
In popular wisdom, history is written by the winners, and it is certainly true that the writing of history can reflect relationships of power. In antiquity, we see the first attempts to write histories of the whole world. These ancient universal histories saw world history through the lens of imperial history; empire and conquest created a visible process of interconnection that allowed historians to write about the whole world rather than single sites of regional conflicts.
In the recent past, these universal histories have been seen as irrevocably imperialistic; by identifying imperial power with historical interconnection, universal historians would have endorsed it. This Young CAS project will question this assumption, looking at different forms of history writing with universal ambitions, from antiquity to the early modern period. In antiquity, for example, most universal historians, such as Polybius or Diodorus Siculus, were foreigners, and they had a point of view distinct from that of the Roman empire. The hypothesis the project is going to explore is that these historians might have wanted, in different ways, to influence the public discourse on empires in their own time, and persuade imperial power to be as passive, tolerant and benevolent as possible. This would imply that, far from being imperialistic, universal history might have even been a form of resistance to imperialism.
Meet the Young CAS Fellows 2021-23: Daniele Miano
Introducing the Young CAS Fellows 2021-2323.02.2021