This article discusses a dilemma that faces the practice of world history, a dilemma created by a conflict between the public pedagogical and the historiographical obligations of world history. The former demands that world history account for the formations of the modern world, expressed most cogently in the spatialities of nations, cultures, civilizations, and even world-systems. On the other hand, world history must be careful for historiographical reasons to not project upon the past the spatialities of modernity. Further complications are added by the undermining of these spatialities by contemporary forces of globalization. The discussion seeks to demonstrate the historiographical problems presented by issues of space through the examples of China, Asia, and Islam. It suggests that world history is not just a subject, but a method, and the methodological questions it raises may be resolved best through translocal approaches to history that are not confined by the boundaries of the spatial units of modernity. The latter need not be abandoned, only placed in historical perspective.