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1 4 Historically Speaking · November/December 2004 wayI am.7 While I agree with Gadamer that it is always possible to adopt more inclusive positions through cultural conversations, I think it is also consistent with the hermeneutic tradition to feel a commitment to those values that are part ofmy historical horizon and are constitutive of my identity—values that engenderwithin me a prejudicial disposition toward traditions that fail to meet such standards as freedom of conscience, separation of church and state, respect for the unique identities of each individual, and equality of opportunity. I am attached, and accept the truth and the moral superiority of the very tradition that has accustomed me to the idea that I should be willing to hear the arguments of others. Eurocentrism is an intrinsic and acceptable component ofevaluation within the hermeneutic circle. Ricardo Duchesne isassociateprofessor ofhistoricalsociology at the University ofNew Brunswick. His most recentpublication is "CentresandMargins: The Fall ofUniversalHistory and the Rise ofMulticultural WorldHistory, " in Mamie Hughes-Warrington , ed., Palgrave Advances in World Histories (Palgrave Macmilhn, 2004). 1 Dipesh Chakrabarty, ProvincializingEurope: Postcolonial ThoughtandHistoricalDifference (Princeton University Press, 2000), 32. 2 Lauren Benton, "How to Write the History of the World," Historically Speaking (March 2004). This essayoffersnovaluable suggestionofitsown, at least not for Miller, since it is an endorsement of the very mediodologies Miller finds wanting: the "world history connected" approach which PatrickManning,JerryBendey, Ross Dunn, Philip Curtin, A. G. Frank, WilliamMcNeill, and many current world historians, have embraced as the mostpoliticallycorrectmethod ofpromoting die idea ofa common human historylongconnected through the movements ofcommodities, capital, ideas, people, and germs (which Benton prefers to call "circulationist"), and the comparative historical approach, which Benton herselfuses, long employed byhistorical sociologists. 3 "History and Africa/Africa and History," American HistoricalReview 104(1999): 1-32. 4 Ibid., 24. 5 In truth, Miller is comfortably at home with the world connected approach (read: "world systems" approach) insomuch as it reduces modern European history and culture to the slave trade, the colonization of die non-western world, and die propagation ofgerms, alcohol, and guns. 6Forthesequotedpassages,seeHans-GeorgGadamer, Truth andMethod(Continuum, 1989), 300-307. 7 "The Way I Am" is a song on Eminem's second album, The MarshallMathers LP. Africa in World History and Historiography Patrick Manning AsJosephMiller's essaydemonstrates, itis still necessary to make the case for the inclusion ofAfrica in interpretations ofworld history. Indeed, as he also shows, itis still necessary to make the case for the relevance of world history as a field ofstudy. Most ofthe readers ofthis bulletin are surelypredisposed to accept the relevance of world historical analysis and the relevance of Africa and African perspectiveswithinworld history. But the devil is in the details, and traces of national, civilizational, and Western-centered perspectives—appropriate, in and of themselves —still tend to devalue the development of a sufficiently lively and coherent field of world history. As ways to address these intellectual constraints, Miller has chosen to focus onAfrican outlooks, on ironyand tragedyin history, and on the place ofthe "face-to-face intimacy" oflocal initiatives in African and world history. The overall message is that there should be expanded study ofworld history, that its approach should be multi-centric, and that it should include Africa and the perspectives that one can learn from Africans. I quite agree. Further, Millerintendshis argumentto respond constructively to Lauren Benton's comment that "world history has not produced a significant volume ofmethodologically thoughtful discussions or theoretically influential studies." On this point I find that Miller's insights are representative of this early stage world-historical conceptualization , in that they raise more questions than they resolve. Ithas been somethingmore than a generation 's time since African studies became an organized field ofstudy. Those trained in the earlystages ofthis academicventure are now reaching their full maturity and offering commentaries such as that ofMiller. African studies began as an extension ofhumanistic and social science analysis to areas beyond the West. Africawas seen as the region most foreign to the West, and it was the last (along with Southeast Asia) to benefit from organized area-studies programs. One of the tragedies ofAfricanist scholarship is that scholars born and working in Africa, while theyhad a promising beginningin the 1960s and 1970s, found theirworklimited...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1944-6438
Print ISSN
1941-4188
Pages
pp. 14-15
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Ceased Publication
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