The sequel and companion volume to C.A. Bayly's ground-breaking The Birth of the Modern World, 1780-1914, this wide-ranging and sophisticated study explores global history since the First World War, offering a coherent, comparative overview of developments in politics, economics, and society at large. * Written by one of the leading historians of his generation, an early intellectual leader in the study of World History * Weaves a clear narrative history that explores the themes of politics, economics, social, cultural, and intellectual life throughout the long twentieth century * Identifies the themes of state, capital, and communication as key drivers of change on a global scale in the last century, and explores the impact of those ideas * Interrogates whether warfare was really the pre-eminent driving force of twentieth-century history, and what other ideas shaped the course of history in this period * Explores the causes behind the resurgence of local conflict, rather than global-scale conflict, in the years since the turn of the millennium * Delves into the narrative of inequality, a story that has shaped and been shaped by the events of the last hundred years Part of The Blackwell History of the World Series The goal of this ambitious series is to provide an accessible source of knowledge about the entire human past, for every curious person in every part of the world. It will comprise some two dozen volumes, of which some provide synoptic views of the history of particular regions while others consider the world as a whole during a particular period of time. The volumes are narrative in form, giving balanced attention to social and cultural history (in the broadest sense) as well as to institutional development and political change. Each provides a systematic account of a very large subject, but they are also both imaginative and interpretative. The Series is intended to be accessible to the widest possible readership, and the accessibility of its volumes is matched by the style of presentation and production.
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List of Figures and Photo Credits
Series Editor's Preface
Series Editor's Acknowledgements
Christopher Bayly and the Making of World History
The Challenges to Global History: Events and Ideas
The Challenges to Global History: Historians and their Doubts
The Motors of Change
Chapter : The World Crisis, c.1900–1930: Europe and the “Middle East”
The World Before War: Idealism, Communitarianism and Radicalism
The First World War: Europe and the American Intervention
The Crucible of War: The Eastern and Western Fronts
Decentring the World Crisis: South-Eastern Europe and the “Middle East”
Reflections, Comparisons and Differences
Chapter : The World Crisis, c.1900–1930: Africa, Asia and Beyond
Decentring the War Continued: Africa, Iran and Afghanistan
India and the War: The Creation of a People
Decentring the War in East Asia: China and Japan, Nationalism and the New Imperialism
The British Dominions and the Americas
Converging Global Crises 1911–1926: Returning to Europe
The Social Consequences of Conflict: Governmentality and Revolt
Chapter : Authoritarianism and Dictatorship Worldwide, c.1900–1950
Nazism, Fascism and Communism: Distant Relatives?
Authoritarian Rule in the Middle East
Authoritarian Rule in East Asia
Authoritarianism, Fascism and Nazism in the West
Back to Communism
A Typology of Early-Twentieth-Century Authoritarianism?
Chapter : Democracies and Their Discontents, c.1900–1950
The Impact of War and the Progress of Democracy: Britain and the United States
War and Depression: The British Dominions
Representation and Rights Among “Subject Peoples”
Democracy on the Rack in Continental Europe: The 1930s
Conclusion: Democracy and Its Travails
Chapter : The Depression: State Intervention and Popular Resistance
The Origin and Spread of the Depression
India, Australia and Africa: The Pains of Colonial Dependence and the Advantages of Autonomy
Germany, Latin America and Japan: Economic Crisis and the Drift to Authoritarianism
The United States and the World: A Paradigm Shift?
The Interwar Years: Historians, Economists and Their Differences
Chapter : The Second World War and its Consequences
Decentralising the World Crisis Again: Part I
The War in Europe and Asia, 1939–1942: Part II
The Climax of the World Crisis, 1942–1948: Part III
The Small Wars Beneath
The Broader Consequences of the War, Part I: The Political
The Broader Consequences of the War, Part II: The Economic
The Broader Consequences of the War, Part III: Social and Moral
Chapter : Peripheral Conflicts and the End of Old Regimes, c.1945–1955
The Small Wars Beneath Continued, Part I: Israel and the Arab World
The Small Wars Beneath Continued, Part II: Asia and Independence
The Small Wars Beneath Continued, Part III: Africa and Beyond
The Fate of the Major Combatants, Part I: Europe, c.1945–1955
The Fate of the Major Combatants, Part II: The Americas
The Fate of the Major Combatants, Part III: Japan
Conclusion: An Age of Forced Compromise
Chapter : America's Hegemony and Colonialism's Finale, mid-1950s to 1970s
The Struggle with “World Communism”
The Fate of “Democratic Socialism” in the New States: South Asia
Africa: The End of Colonialism and the Trials of Nation States
The Travails and Resurgence of Europe
Latin America and the Caribbean: Revolution and Reaction
Chapter : The “Tipping Point”: World Politics and the Shock of the “Long 1980s”
The Fall of the Soviet Union and Communist Eastern Europe
Islamic Revival and Sectarian Conflict
China and East Asia: A Revolution Contained
India: The Decline of a Centralised Economy
The Americas, Europe and South Africa: Liberation or the Legitimation of Social Inequality?
Chapter : The Expansion of Human Knowledge: The Twentieth-Century Person and Society
The Sciences and the Reconsideration of the Universe
History, Archaeology and the Human Imagination
Knowledge and the Person: Anthropology
Economics and Sociology
Chapter : The Self and Human Society
Sources of the Self Worldwide
Twentieth-Century Sciences of the Mind
Moulding the Person for Society: Gender and Sexuality
Educating and Disciplining the Person for Society
Sport: A Window on the Twentieth Century?
Sociality, Communication and the Craze for Possession
Conclusion: The Twentieth-Century Person
Chapter : Arts, Literature and Entertainment: Crisis and Recovery
The Terror of War and the Creativity of Peace
Making the “New Man” Through Art and Literature
Post War in the West: Experimentation and the Reconstitution of the Classical
Popular Music and the Rise of Youth
At the Turn of the Twenty-First Century
Chapter : Religion: Contestation and Revival
The Expansion of “World Religions”
Religion Contested: Burgeoning Cults and the Threat of Communism
The Trials of Christianity, c.1900 to 1970
“Leaps of Faith”: The Late Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries
Chapter : A Century of Killing and a Century of Crime
“Ethnic Cleansing” Before the Holocaust
The Holocaust and its Memory
Killing, Ethnic Cleansing and the New States
The 1990s Generation and Humanitarian (Non)-Intervention
The “Downsizing” of Killing and the Small Wars of Fragmentation
A Century of Crime and Criminal Killing
Chapter : Internationalism and Transnationalism in Theory and Practice
Internationalism and Individual Rights after 1945
Chapter : The Shadow of Empire in the Modern World
Empire, the European World and the Redefinition of Race
The Residual Colonialism of Language
Political Representation and the Consolidation of Religious and Ethnic Difference
Colonialism's Shadow in Economics and Social Control
Economics and Empire
Chapter : The Pressure of People
The Stagnation of Population: Western Europe, Japan and Russia
Pressures on the Human Body
Human Population and the Elimination of Other Species
Alleviating the Pressure of People
Chapter : Between Two Centuries: Economic Liberalisation and Political Fragmentation, c.1991 to 2015
The Small Wars of Fragmentation Redoubled: The West, Africa and the Muslim World
The Spectre of Jihadism and Further Humanitarian Intervention
Why Conflicts Racked the Muslim World
Small Wars of Fragmentation Redoubled: Africa and Latin America
The Triumph and Crisis of Capitalism
Globalisation, Prosperity and Crisis
The Pains of Globalisation and the Return of the National
Conclusion: Periods and Prophecy
The Person and the Self
Society and Economy
The Triumph of Human Imagination
Articles from Journals and Newspapers, Book Chapters, Blog posts, Reviews, Dissertations, Lectures and Unpublished papers
End User License Agreement
Table of Contents
The Blackwell History of the World
General Editor: R. I. Moore
A History of Latin AmericaAvailable in third edition as “A History of Latin America to 1825”
The Birth of the Modern World
C. A. Bayly
The Origins of Human Society
A History of Russia, Central Asia and Mongolia: Volume I
A History of Russia, Central Asia and Mongolia: Volume II
A History of Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific
Donald Denoon, Philippa Mein-Smith and Marivic Wyndham
A History of South-East Asia
A History of China
The Western Mediterranean and the World
Teofilo F. Ruiz
A History of India
A History of Japan
C. A. BAYLY
This edition first published 2018
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Cover Images: (front cover) © Agencia EFE/REX/Shutterstock; (back cover) © OnstOn/iStockphoto
Maori soldiers. Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 31-A2. Photo by Herman John Schmidt
The 9th Queen's Royal Lancers of the British Army charging German artillery, 1916. Underwood Photo Archives/Superstock
Nehru at Harrow,
1906. Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Portrait of Chiang Kai-shek on the wall of the Sun Co. department store at the corner of Nanking Road and Yu Ya Ching Road. George Lacks/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
A young Hitler with members of the 16th Bavarian Reserves Infantry Regiment during the First World War. Roger Viollet/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images
Japanese suffragists carrying 20,000 petitions to the Imperial Diet requesting a women's suffrage bill, 1920s. George Rinhart/Bettmann/Corbis/Getty Images
President Sukarno and Marilyn Monroe at a party at the Beverly Hills Hotel, 1956. Bettmann/Getty Images
Yogyakarta, Indonesia, 1948. © Charles Breijer/Nederlands Fotomuseum
People strolling near the Berlin Wall. Bernauer Strasse, Berlin, 1969. Ullsteinbild/TopFoto
Fiat cars at Singapore Harbour. Singapore Press Holdings Ltd.
Eva Perón handing out election badges from her campaign train, February 1946. Juan Perón is in the background. Thomas D. McAvoy/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
Pakistan President Mohammad Ayub Khan with Jackie Kennedy. Tour of Pakistan, 1962. Art Rickerby/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
The Peach Girl
, 1931. Ryan Lingyu and Jin Yan. Liana Film Co/REX/Shutterstock
Leon Trotsky and his wife with Frida Kahlo and others on arrival in Mexico, 1937. OFF/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images
The Beatles, 1967. “All you need is love”. Getty Images
John Frum followers, Vanuatu. Thierry Falise/LightRocket/Getty Images
One of the symbols of Vietnam's Cao Dai religion of modernity. Xavier Rossi/StockPhoto/Getty Images
A march past performed by Bukit Panjang Government School pupils during the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, 1953. National Archives of Singapore
Gandhi and Nehru at a Congress meeting, 1946. Ruhe/Ullstein Bild via Getty Images
There is nothing new in the attempt to grasp history as a whole. To understand how humanity began and how it has come to its present condition is one of the oldest and most universal of human needs, expressed in the religious and philosophical systems of every civilization. But only in the last few decades has it begun to appear both necessary and possible to meet that need by means of a rational and systematic appraisal of current historical knowledge. Until the middle of the nineteenth century history itself was generally treated as a subordinate branch of other fields of thought and learning – of literature, rhetoric, law, philosophy or religion. When historians began at that time to establish its independence as a field of scholarship in its own right, with its own subject matter and its own rules and methods, they made it in practice not the attempt to achieve a comprehensive account of the human past but the history of Western Europe and of the societies created by European expansion and colonisation. In laying the scholarly foundations of their discipline they also reinforced the Enlightenment's belief in the advance of “civilization” and, more recently, of “Western civilization”. In this form, with relatively minor regional variations, it became the basis of the teaching of history almost everywhere for most of the twentieth century. Research and teaching of the histories of other parts of the world developed mainly in the context of area studies like those of ancient Greece and Rome, rooted in philology, and conducted through the exposition of the canonical texts of their respective languages.
While those approaches prevailed, world history as such remained largely the province of thinkers and writers principally interested in constructing theoretical or metaphysical systems. Only towards the end of the twentieth century did the community of academic historians begin to recognise it as a proper and even urgent field for the application of their knowledge and skills. The inadequacy of the traditional parameters of the discipline is now acknowledged, and the sense is growing that a world facing a common future of headlong and potentially catastrophic transformation needs its common history. The realisation of such a history has been delayed, however, by simple ignorance on the one hand – for the history of enormous stretches of space and time has until very recently been known not at all, or so patchily and superficially as not to be worth revisiting – and on the other by the lack of a widely acceptable basis upon which to organise and discuss what is nevertheless the enormous and enormously diverse knowledge that we have.
The first of those obstacles is now being rapidly overcome. There is almost no part of the world or period of its history that is not the object of energetic and sophisticated investigation by archaeologists and historians. The expansion of the horizons of academic history since the 1980s has been dramatic. The quality and quantity of historical research and writing have risen exponentially in each decade, and the advances have been most spectacular in some of the areas previously most neglected. The academics have not failed to share the results of their labours. Reliable and accessible, often brilliant, accounts are now readily available of regions, periods and topics that even 20 years ago were obscure to everyone but a handful of specialists. In particular, collaborative publication, in the form of volumes or sets of volumes in which teams of authors set forth, in more or less detail, their expert and up-to-date conclusions in the field of their research, has been a natural and necessary response to the growth of knowledge. Only in that way can non-specialists, at any level, be kept even approximately in touch with the constantly accelerating accumulation of information about the past.
Yet the amelioration of one problem exacerbates the other. It is truer than it has ever been that knowledge is growing and perspectives multiplying more quickly than they can be assimilated and recorded in synthetic form. We can now describe a great many more trees in a great deal more detail than we could before. It does not always follow that we have a better view of the wood. Collaboration has many strengths, but clarity, still less originality, of vision is rarely prominent among them. History acquires shape, structure, relevance – becomes, in the fashionable catchphrase, something for thinking with – by advancing and debating new suggestions about what past societies were like, how they worked and why they changed over long periods of time, how they resembled and why they differed from contemporaneous societies in other parts of the world, and how they interacted with one another. Such insights, like the sympathetic understanding without which the past is dead, are almost always born of individual creativity and imagination. That is why each volume in this series embodies the work and vision of a single author. Synthesis on such a scale demands learning, resolution and, not least, intellectual and professional courage of no ordinary degree. We have been singularly fortunate in finding scholars of great distinction who are willing to undertake it.
There is a wealth of ways in which world history can be written. The oldest and simplest view, that it is best understood as the history of contacts between peoples previously isolated from one another, from which (as some think) all change arises, is now seen to be capable of application since the earliest times. An influential alternative focuses upon the tendency of economic exchange to create self-sufficient but ever-expanding “worlds” which sustain successive systems of power and culture. Another seeks to understand the differences between societies and cultures, and therefore the particular character of each, by comparing the ways in which their values, social relationships and structures of power have developed. The rapidly emerging field of ecological history returns to a very ancient tradition of seeing interaction with the physical environment, and with other animals, at the centre of the human predicament, while insisting that its understanding demands an approach which is culturally, chronologically and geographically comprehensive. More recently still “Big History”, led by a contributor to this series, has begun to show how human history can be integrated with that not only of the natural but also of the cosmic environment, and better understood in consequence.
The Blackwell History of the World seeks not to embody any single approach, but to support them all, as it will use them all, by providing a modern, comprehensive and accessible account of the entire human past. Each volume offers a substantial overview of a portion of world history large enough to permit, and indeed demand, the reappraisal of customary boundaries of regions, periods and topics, and in doing so reflects the idiosyncrasies of its sources and its subjects, as well as the vision and judgement of its author. The series as a whole combines the indispensable narratives of very long-term regional development with global surveys of developments across the world, and of interaction between regions and what they have experienced in common, or visited upon one another, at particular times. Together, these volumes will provide a framework in which the history of every part of the world can be viewed, and a basis upon which most aspects of human activity can be compared across both time and space. A frame offers perspective. Comparison implies respect for difference. That is the beginning of what the past has to offer the future.
The editor is grateful to all the contributors for advice and assistance on the design and contents of the series as a whole, as well as on individual volumes. Both editor and contributors wish to place on record, individually and collectively, their debt to the late John Davey, formerly of Blackwell Publishing, without whose vision and enthusiasm the series could not have been initiated, and to his successor, Tessa Harvey, without whose energy, skill and diplomacy, sustained over many years, it could not have been realised.
The author of this book, Christopher Bayly, died suddenly in April 2015, leaving it unfinished, though in effect complete. He was a historian of immense distinction, and his contribution to history in general and world history in particular is described below. To this series he gave two volumes of the highest quality and originality, and to its editor unbounded inspiration, advice and support. His loss is irreparable. In the task of bringing the manuscript he left to publication the assistance of Daniel Jacobius Morgan, who had worked closely with him in his final months, has been unstintingly generous, and indispensable. I am grateful for the judgement and advice of Michael Bentley and Christopher Clark, and for the patience of Haze Humbert through an exceptionally demanding production process. Susan Bayly has guided it at every point, and through many hazards, with seemingly inexhaustible patience, fortitude and grace. Nobody else could have ensured that this would be the book Chris meant it to be. It is hers too.
R. I. Moore
To our series editor's moving words of thanks I must add some heartfelt acknowledgements of my own. Our cherished friends and family have been tirelessly supportive as we have seen my dearest Chris's manuscript through to publication. And while I cannot mention everyone by name, I do wish to convey my appreciation to Daniel Jacobius Morgan, and to Bob Moore for his unflagging commitment and insight. Special thanks are also due to Sugata Bose, David Cannadine, Derek Davis, Richard Drayton, Tim Harper and Gordon Johnson; and to Chris Clark, whose eloquent words in our memoir below so brilliantly capture Chris's brio and profundity. I also thank Barbara Roe, who recovered the images we have been able to use as Chris wanted, especially the marvellous picture of the Spanish Civil War freedom fighter gazing into an uncertain future with a look of courage and optimism on her lovely young face, which we knew Chris intended as his cover illustration. And there are many others, both in Britain and beyond, including Chris's former students now adorning an amazing array of historical fields and subdisciplines across the world. I think of you all with affection and gratitude, greatly heartened by all you have done to ensure that we can temper our sense of abiding loss with the gift of this final, magnificent product of Chris's erudition and humanity.
Susan BaylyCambridge, March 2018
Professor Sir Christopher Bayly, LittD, FBA, the author of this volume, died in Chicago of a heart attack on 19 April 2015 at the age of 69. Bayly was the pre-eminent historian of India and the British Empire and a pioneer in the field of global history. He was also the first academic ever to be knighted “for services to history outside of Europe”. Chris's distinction was international, as the long list of his appointments and honours testifies, but his career was centred on St Catharine's College, Cambridge, where he was elected in 1970 to a Fellowship and College Lectureship in History and became Director of Studies in History. In 1981, Chris Bayly was appointed to Cambridge University's Smuts Readership in Commonwealth Studies, and thereafter he was appointed to a succession of posts in the Faculty of History, culminating in the Vere Harmsworth Professorship of Imperial and Naval History in 1992. At the time of his death, he also held concurrently professorships at Chicago, Copenhagen and Queen Mary University of London.
Chris was born in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, to a family entangled with the recent history of Empire. He remembered childhood conversations with his London cockney grandfather, who had fought during the First World War in Egypt, Palestine and Turkey. His father had seen service all over the world as a merchant mariner, including on ships running copra from India. “So I had an early introduction to colonial and world history,” he would later say. The history Chris learnt at the Skinners' School in Tunbridge Wells and as an undergraduate at Balliol, Oxford, in 1963, was broad in its intellectual horizons but strongly European in focus. The turn towards a career in Indian history came in 1965, when Chris embarked on a long vacation journey across land to India, passing through Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Forced to avoid the Indian–Pakistani warzone, he travelled south to Karachi and caught a Shia pilgrimage boat to Basra. “I got a sense of India from the other side,” he recalled in a July 2014 interview. “Not dropping out of an aircraft. India in West Asia, and particularly the Muslim dimension. So that was a very formative experience.”
At St Antony's, his graduate college, Sarvepalli Gopal and Albert Hourani guided his reading in the histories of India and the Middle East; the supervisor of his doctoral thesis was Jack Gallagher (also of Balliol), who was then overseeing a transformation in British imperial history. Chris came to Cambridge in 1970 at the invitation of Eric Stokes, Smuts Professor of British Commonwealth History, who had been at St Catharine's College since 1963. The transfer to Cambridge was arranged, as Chris later recalled, in the strikingly relaxed way typical of those times: “Jack phoned Eric: ‘Eric, have you got a job there for this funny person called Bayly that I've got?’ He said: ‘Maybe we do’, and that was it.”
Eric Stokes was to be Chris's most important mentor. In the 1970s, Stokes was moving away from the issues of principle and ideology that had commanded the attention of his earlier work towards an approach to Indian history that stressed the importance of landholding structures and the pressures exerted on them by British systems of revenue management. An interest in the dynamic interaction between local elites and imperial governments would also be an abiding feature of Chris's work on India. Stokes's unpretentious and likeable scholarly persona was another inspiration. In a touching piece for the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Chris found words for Stokes, who had died in 1981, that one might use of Chris himself: “His influence as a historian was accomplished not with domineering patronage, but through humour, self-deprecation, and intellectual inquisitiveness.”
Chris Bayly's books don't document results; they track intellectual journeys. “This book,” Chris writes at the opening of Rulers, Townsmen and Bazaars (1983), a study that transformed historical understanding of the impact of British rule in India, “grew out of a fascination with the rich pattern of commercial life still to be found in the tangled lanes of brass-smiths' stalls and ancient merchant houses which lay behind the waterfront of the city of Benares.” The stately waterfront mansions of the ghats of Benares were just a point of disembarkation. What interested him were the tangled lanes behind.
These steps away from the waterfront, into the recesses behind elite networks and smooth historiographical surfaces, can be traced in every book Chris wrote. Chris was acutely aware of the intricately layered quality of human societies. Again and again, he offers us vertiginous views through superimposed social textures. Nothing in what unfolds before our eyes is obvious, because everything is in motion. Clans and occupational fraternities coalesce into class-like structures; power changes hands: cosmopolitan oligarchs cede power to merchants; Nanakpanthi Khattris take over from their Islamicised caste fellows; Kannada merchants and Chettis slip into positions once occupied by Armenians and Jews. Chris saw a piece of agency, a spark of resilience and hope, in everyone who entered his field of vision.
This seething, ever-present mobility made it utterly impossible to think of India as something stagnant or passive, something to which history or empire simply happened. Chris's eye was fixed on those forces of self-organisation and self-reinvention that predated the arrival of the British and would survive their departure to shape the India of today.
Already in the earliest books on India, Chris had discerned parallels with peasant Egypt, small-town Meiji-era Japan and the striving professional classes of nineteenth-century China. These expansive reflections later fed into the two breakthrough books that shaped and deepened the new field of world history – Imperial Meridian and The Birth of the Modern World – establishing Chris as one of the foremost historians of his generation worldwide. Imperial Meridian (1989) marked a transition from highly textured work on the Indian subcontinent to a new kind of history focused on how the interactions between great imperial power complexes shaped and were shaped by processes of change within them. The most historiographically significant work in this mode was The Birth of the Modern World: Global Connections and Comparisons, 1780–1914 (2004), to which Remaking the Modern World is the sequel.
The Birth of the Modern World not only did much to establish world history as a scholarly discipline but also altered the conceptual framework of the subject by de-centring the West. It forged a new kind of world history which reflected both an appreciative engagement with the work of other historians across the widest possible span of fast-changing disciplinary specialisms and an eagerness to build bridges with neighbouring fields. Anthropology was a subject that loomed especially large on Chris's intellectual horizons. There was of course a personal dimension to this encounter. Thirty-four years of marriage to Susan, an anthropologist of India and Vietnam, took shape as a life of perpetual travel and reunion, sustained and nourished by joyfully impassioned argument, and keen enthusiasm for one another's work.
In many ways Chris took an anthropologist's as well as an historian's eye to his work in India. At a time when many other historians regarded official state archives as the only important source, Chris was searching out the privately archived north Indian collections of commercial family record books from which he derived the most important insights in Rulers, Townsmen and Bazaars. Once deciphered, these complex texts allowed him to reconstruct the social and religious life of the merchant networks and thus to peer into worlds whose inner life had left little trace on the grand narratives of official reportage. What Chris found most attractive in the anthropology he read was its practitioners' insistence that the intimate and the everyday are matters of profound importance for a sympathetic understanding of the world's people and places. He responded with particular keenness to the insights of those anthropologists who brought to the exploration of social and cultural life in both familiar and far-flung settings a recognition that human existence is experienced dynamically, in a world of continual flux and change. Indeed, he was an important contributor to anthropology's own debates about how to do justice to the complexities of change and transformation in a discipline once thought to be equipped only to chart the specifics of the here and now, as observed by the intensive methods of ethnographic participant-observation.
One of Chris's critical early forays into new history writing reflected precisely this excitement about the dialogue with anthropology. This was the essay on Indian cloth entitled “The origins of swadeshi (home industry)”, which he published in 1986 in the ground-breaking joint volume The Social Life of Things edited by the anthropologist Arjun Appadurai. Still widely read within and beyond both history and anthropology, Chris's account of the remarkable array of meanings ascribed to the production and consumption of items, ranging from the sumptuous shawls ceremonially exchanged by rulers and courtiers in India's precolonial princedoms to Gandhi's famous khadi homespun cotton, charts the subtleties of Indian taste, choice and culture as matters of economic, political and moral initiative and in no sense a reflection of uncontested or inert cultural givens. His writings on Indian temple and trading cities, on the surprising involvement in early colonial economic life of north India's networks of Hindu spiritual ascetics and his explorations of Hindu and Muslim statecraft in the transition from precolonial to colonial rule have also been appreciatively read by anthropologists.
At the heart of The Birth of the Modern World was a narrative of convergence. The book opened with a powerful evocation of the diversity of bodily practices across the world's societies at the beginning of the modern era; the nineteenth century, Bayly argued, saw the rise of global uniformities in the structures and articulations of states, religions and economic life, visible not only in great institutions but also in modes of dress and the consumption of food. The book shrank the distance between “the West” and “the rest”; industrialisation, urbanisation, nationalism and the development of the state were for him ultimately global processes, notwithstanding local specificities. The book registered moments of heightened difference and antagonism, but for Chris, these were always subordinate phenomena. Antagonisms flourished precisely because societies were becoming more connected and more alike.
Chris's account allowed for what he described as “the brute fact of western domination”, but his book also stressed the limited and temporary character of that domination and insisted on the “interdependence” of diverse processes of change. No one who reads this book can fail to be impressed by the subtlety and lucidity of the reasoning, the breadth of compass, the attention to reciprocity in political, economic and social relationships and the well-oiled analytical gears that enabled Chris to travel elegantly between the local and the global.
And even as he enlarged the scope of his attention, Chris continued to generate fresh insights into Indian history. Empire and Information (1996) offered a compelling account of British intelligence gathering in India between 1780 and 1870, showing how “native informants” recruited by the British actively shaped the process. In analogous fashion, Origins of Nationality in South Asia (1998) and Recovering Liberties (2011) elucidated how Indians responded as autonomous agents to Western nationalism and liberal political and economic thought.
Chris's books bore the imprint of wide and humane interests; they were also methodologically eclectic. As Richard Drayton, former Research Fellow at St Catharine's College and Rhodes Professor of Imperial History at King's College London, put it in an obituary for the Guardian: Chris Bayly had “an astonishing capacity to respond quickly to new perspectives and had the knack, in particular, of grafting historical ideas from one specialism to another. He read widely across the social sciences and had a magpie's eye for something brilliant in another discipline.” Conversation was a crucial part of the gathering and comparing that drove Chris's historical thinking: when discussions with students or colleagues got interesting, Chris would often pull out a small crumpled notebook and start scribbling down ideas.
As these observations may suggest, Chris lived in his work. Not for it, but in it. The “Bayly mahal”, as he sometimes affectionately called the home he and his wife Susan founded when they married in 1981, was a place of conversation over work and wine, a conversation anchored in shared passions, complementary interests and pride in each other's achievements. And C3 on Main Court, the room Chris occupied for decades at St Catharine's College, was much more than an office. Eloquent objects were gathered there. The model ship his father had built. The tall eighteenth-century Venetian rosewood slippers decorated in mother of pearl – witnesses to the cultural links between northern Italy, the Ottoman Empire and China. The beautiful Gandhara head of the Buddha, 1500 years old and carved by Greek and South Asian artisans in a style native to eastern Afghanistan – of all the things Chris and Susan had found together, this was his favourite.
It was in C3 that so many conversations happened, conversations that never failed to take Chris's guests to new places. And this was not just a matter of the sparks that were always falling from Chris's forge, but also his other gifts – gifts of unassuming and attentive friendship. Just a few days after his death, one of Chris's former St Catharine's graduate students, Jayeeta Sharma, wrote: “I will never forget how awkward I felt, as a provincial student from a little place in north-eastern India, how he helped me to find my moorings, with C3 as a welcoming, warm and beautiful space for talk, laughter, and hospitality.” Words like this remind us of why Chris was admired and loved in equal measure.
After he had declined the offer by his former students to produce a Festschrift, a conference was organized in Varanasi (Benares) in January 2015 to honour his achievements. Here one could see Chris at ease and happy in the setting of the civilization that had absorbed and rewarded his attention for so many years. It is hard to imagine a more fitting acknowledgement: it was on the stone bathing wharves (ghats) of this beautiful, thronging city that the young Chris Bayly had begun his research into the mercantile elites of northern India. He was probably the first scholar to make use of the account books (bahi khatas) that all significant mercantile families had kept for centuries. In these, Chris found not just a meticulous record of revenues and expenditures but also entries documenting the constellation of relationships and affiliations that sustained the economic and moral life of merchant networks across much of the subcontinent. Alongside the double entry bookkeeping were salutations to various deities, lists of temple accoutrements and accounts of expenditures on worship, bathing in the Ganges and gifts to Brahmins. And what struck him most as he worked with those difficult, handwritten texts was what he saw and heard when he lifted his gaze from the faded pages and observed what the banker merchant families were doing all around him, especially the visits they hosted from the naked sadhu holy men still consigning their brotherhoods' assets to the trusted men of business whose forbears their own precursors had dealt with in centuries past. As Chris himself put it, “Notions of credit, piety and commercial security were closely tied together.” A nexus connecting commerce and religion announced itself here that would be a central theme in his subsequent work.
Connections of this kind were the stuff that Chris's historical thinking was made of. He was personally a sceptic in religious matters. Yet, his books are striking for their integration of religious identities and forms of social mobilisation into larger narratives of transformation. He respected the Marxist tradition in historical writing for its deep interest in processes of social change, but he never allowed social, economic or political categories to occlude the agency of individuals seeking to make their way in a difficult and changing world.
Christopher ClarkSusan BaylyMarch 2018
This volume is a companion volume to my Birth of the Modern World 1780–1914: Global Connections and Comparisons (2004). It adopts a roughly similar approach, that is to say it contains a series of analytical narrative chapters (1–9 and 18) enclosing more conceptual chapters on subjects such as the person, the arts and religion during the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries (10–17). The book is designed for advanced undergraduates, graduate students and academic colleagues, but I hope members of the general public interested in history will also read it. Like the earlier book, it is not so much a textbook as a reflection on world history. Much of this history has taken place during the lifetime of the author and many of his readers. This raises problems. Older readers might well respond to parts of this text by saying, “Well, we knew that; what's new?” But my impression is that many younger readers, including students, will only have the vaguest idea of historical events and arguments before their own times and outside their specialist knowledge. This is especially so for the years 1900 to 1950, except perhaps for the standard themes around Hitler and Stalin. So, I have felt it necessary to include some more basic narrative history. Fixing on a title also raised an interesting issue about historical memory. It was originally to be The Crisis of the Modern World, which seemed appropriate to older members of my family. But a friend from a formerly colonised country said to me, “You can't use that title. This was the century when we got our freedom!”
Obviously, too, as an author, my own knowledge and reading are limited in light of the scope of the study. I know more about South Asia than Latin America and have a better knowledge of French and Indian than German or Chinese historical literature, for instance. Nevertheless, almost everything I read in newspapers, hear on the radio, see on the TV and discuss with friends and colleagues seems only too relevant to this book. Contemporary events, as discussed in the Introduction, have also caused me constantly to rethink my view of the past, which is why I have brought the argument forward to 2015. The problem, then, even compared with a study of the nineteenth century, becomes what to leave out, rather than what to include. That is also true of references. Some authors of world histories simply list books by chapter at the end of their study. I have chosen to reference useful general studies in the text itself, but clearly this only represents a tiny proportion of all relevant publications which can now be counted in hundreds of thousands for such topics as the First World War or Nazism, or in the millions overall. Writing modern world history – and the Introduction considers some of the debates about its worth – can only be a flawed activity. But I argue that it adds value to other forms of historical writing and to public debate more generally.
I have had the enormous advantage of having access to some of the best history departments and universities in the world while writing this book: the universities of Cambridge, Chicago, Queen Mary University of London, Copenhagen and JNU, Delhi, among others. I am greatly indebted to the generosity of the government of India which established the Vivekananda Chair at the University of Chicago which I held for two quarters in 2014 and 2015. Some of what I learnt (and forgot) of British and European history at Oxford many years ago has usefully come back to mind. My personal intellectual debts are also enormous and I can only mention a few of them. Susan Bayly, historian and now anthropologist, has instructed me during an almost permanent domestic seminar. Colleagues in the various colleges, history and South Asian departments have constantly stimulated my interest: Chris Clark, Hans van de Ven, Richard Drayton, Saul Dubow, Kim Wagner, Peter Bang, Dipesh Chakrabarty, Rochona Majumdar and Muzaffar Alam, among many others. Bob Moore, the general editor, Andrew Arsan, Sunil Purushotham, Simon Layton and students at Queen Mary and Chicago made many sage suggestions. But I must particularly thank warmly my Cambridge colleague Shruti Kapila, who revivified my interest in the history of ideas. She, along with Faisal Devji, has been instrumental in creating a new form of global intellectual history. For, above all, the remaking of the modern world in the last century was brought about by ideas and human imagination.
C. A. B.Summer 2015
The Challenges to Global History: Events and Ideas
The Challenges to Global History: Historians and their Doubts
The Motors of Change
OVER the last 20 years, world history or global history has become almost a fashion in the historical profession.2 Even though the number of works on global connections and comparisons is still vastly outnumbered by regional, national and topic-centred histories, a series of formidable works have been published. Jürgen Osterhammel's Transformation of the World, dealing with the nineteenth century, and the first volume of his and Akira Iriye's series A World Connecting 1870–1945, edited by Emily Rosenberg, are particularly substantial versions of the genre both intellectually and physically. Among single-authored monographs, the last two volumes of the sociologist Michael Mann's The Sources of Social Power are notable for their historical detail and theoretical coherence. All these should be seen in light of the continuing importance of Eric Hobsbawm's four-volume work, especially his Age of Extremes, which, in part because of its Marxist orientation, also conveys a degree of intellectual consistency which some other contributions lack.3 The problems of perspective, scale and time, which arise in the writing of such “connected history”, have been analysed theoretically by Michael Werner and Bénédicte Zimmermann and other historians and sociologists aiming to surmount what has been called “methodological nationalism”.4
Historians select their topics, whether knowingly or not, because of their deep connection with current events. That was as true of the radical 1960s and 1970s when the “English Revolution” of the seventeenth century was the topic of the day, as of the 1990s' interest in the Atlantic world and early globalisation. Yet, the impact of current events poses particular advantages and problems for historians of the last century, especially if they lived through much of it. The issue deserves more than a simple allusion in this preface because, as the former British prime minister Harold Macmillan told a journalist, “Events, dear boy, events!” are not only the biggest problem for politicians but also for contemporary historians. Quite apart from family memories of the First and Second World Wars, extraordinary changes in world politics and in the intellectual environment have caused me to rethink some of the assumptions on which this book is based, not once but several times. The Arab Spring has been followed by an “Arab Winter”. In Egypt, for instance, the apparent resurgence of the Muslim Brotherhood, founded in 1922, has given way to a new bout of military-backed rule, not dissimilar to the governments of the 1960s to the 1990s. Meanwhile, radical Muslim extremism in the form of Hizbullah, Hamas or ISIS raises questions about the long-term moral and political formation of the modern “Middle East”, particularly when the leaders of some Islamist movements specifically denounce the Sykes–Picot Agreement of 1916, which foreshadowed the division of the region.
In the same way, the overwhelming victory of the Bharatiya Janata Party in the Indian elections of 2014 challenges historians, especially perhaps in the University of Cambridge, to reassess their long-standing emphasis on regionalism and caste as the basis of Indian politics. The strength of the Christian “moral majority” in the United States and the revival of the Orthodox Church in Russia also seem, at least superficially, to support those dissenting political scientists who have long dismissed the idea that secularism is the dominant moral form of the twentieth-century Western world. Again, how far has the rise of Eurosceptic parties of both Right and Left in Europe and conflict in the Ukraine since 2010 undermined historians' assumption that the long movement of the continent since the 1950s towards peaceful economic and political union was irreversible?
These incentives to rethink an emerging standard historiography prompted by contemporary politics have been matched by intellectual developments. The centrality of the idea of globalisation and the triumph of neoliberal democracy in the 1990s, announced famously by Francis Fukuyama, was a clear outcome of the fall of the USSR.5 Yet, globalisation theory, positing “ever-closer” global union, de-territorialisation and international governance, encountered theoretical criticism some time before the reassertion of aggressive national states and the decline in international bodies threw doubt on it.6 Historians had meanwhile signed up to global history, before once again edging away from it.
Most recently, the public debate fuelled by Thomas Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-First Century reflects this more pessimistic view of recent global economic change.7 Why, in the words of French newspapers, did this economist become “un rock star” or “un bulldozer” (note these two linguistically globalised words)? After all, Joseph Stiglitz and Paul Krugman had been pointing to the rapid growth of income equality across the Western world since the time of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan in the 1980s and even more so since the financial crash of 2007–2008. Right-wing journals queried Piketty's figures; left-wing ones argued that he was not Marxist enough. From the point of view of a modern historian, however, the importance of the book was its long historical range. When the return on capital invested in property or stocks and shares consistently outperformed the broader economic growth rate, as it had since the early nineteenth century, a privileged, inheriting elite was bound to emerge and inequality of income was bound to grow. According to Piketty, this trend was only disrupted by the dramatic effects of the two world wars and the Depression of the 1930s. To this extent, the years from 1950 to 1980 were exceptional in their deviation from the long-standing movement to social inequality, which he dated to the aftermath of the French Revolution. After 2000, indeed, the trend to inequality within rapidly developing countries, such as China, India and Brazil, seemed to be pointing in the same direction, even while inequality between nations across the world was slowly declining.
This book accepts much of Piketty's argument. Even if the actual statistical trend is less clear or universal than he argued, the discourse of inequality was itself of great social and political significance. During the belle époque before 1914, it empowered European socialists and the American Progressive Movement. After 2010, President Barack Obama similarly used the argument of growing inequality to fend off attacks by his Republican critics. I will suggest, however, that the notion of inequality has to be greatly broadened beyond income inequality to include differentials based on inherited status, ethnicity, race and so-called tribe.8 A critical force in generating these forms of inequality was the legacy of the nineteenth-century European empires and the informal “empire” of Western commercial and ideological dominance that followed their demise.9 Here, the twentieth century also saw a significant shift from layered inequality maintained by dominant elites to what might be called collective inequality within a state of apparent political freedom. So, for instance, black labour on the estates of the southern United States in 1850 was transformed into agglomerations of very poor, but ostensibly free, black people in its cities by 1950. The same can be said for gender inequality. In 1850, women were effectively bonded servants within extended families. By 2000, they were ostensibly free, but their access to the highest incomes, the best jobs and property was still distinctly lower than that of men and was actually declining in some areas, especially in Muslim societies.
Along with the debate about inequality another contemporary concern, pressing on historians, has been climate change and sustainability. A wide range of polemics, some proposing immediate planetary disaster, others denying the very existence of inexorable climate change, have alerted the profession to the historical conditions which, especially over the last century, have ravaged plant and animal life, polluted the air and damaged water tables across the world. This subject is treated in Chapter 17.10
A second intellectual challenge to the writing on modern global history, apart from “Events, dear boy, events!” has come from within the profession itself. There is once again, as in the case of the debate about inequality, a deep connection with contemporary politics here. In France, the intellectual right wing opposed histoire croisée or “connected history”, advanced by Werner and Zimmerman, among others, stressing instead French nationhood. In Britain, the then Education Secretary, Michael Gove, tried to reinstate British, or rather southern English, history in the school syllabus in place of well-meaning, if incoherent, teaching on the wider world. But it would be unfair to suggest that sceptical colleagues are no more than ivory-tower ideologues of the Front National or the UK Independence Party. Any fashion in the writing of history, whether it was the social history of the 1960s and 1970s, the postmodernist phase or the neoliberal writing of the 1980s and 1990s, or indeed the global history of the last two decades, inevitably encounters its critics. In the case of world or global history, a range of criticisms have emerged in recent years from scholars who doubt the value of the concept of networks, theories of globalisation and an emphasis on diasporas and movement. Other commentators highlight the difficulty of finding coherent “motors of change” in world history.
In these critiques, historians have been directed to consider what did not move and what did not change at a world level. World or global history has been charged either with a kind of flabby universalism or, equally, a constipated desire to assimilate every event and every fact into an unreadable jumble. Postcolonial and postmodernist historians have also represented the field of global history as a way of smuggling back Western liberal, imperialist or capitalist values into historiography or refusing to accept that “meta-narratives” of globalisation are no more than orientalising discourses of power, representing no underlying reality.
Like all critiques in the historical profession, these charges have some force and I will consider them before moving on to argue for the importance of a cautious and self-aware form of world history which does not detract from the national or the local. So, what of the objections to the current direction of world and global history? In 2013, the Princeton University historian David A. Bell wrote a pithy review in the New Republic of Emily Rosenberg's A World Connecting, entitled “This is what happens when historians overuse the idea of network.”11 In addition to ignoring the role of individuals in history, Bell argued that world historians too often failed to provide an adequate discussion of the more abstract motors of change. In the case of the Rosenberg volume he asserted that “the largest single absence is war”. Elsewhere, he regretted the absence of a treatment of political ideas and of daily life that was transformed during the twentieth century. He ended his critique by suggesting that world history written in a “networking” mode had perhaps reached a point of “diminishing returns”. In 2014, the intellectual historian Samuel Moyn wrote a review of Jürgen Osterhammel's massive The Transformation of the World, similarly arguing that the whole was less than the sum of its parts.12 More recently, David Armitage's and Jo Guldi's History Manifesto,13 arguing for longue durée global history, encountered strong criticism from Peter Mandler and Deborah Cohen.14 Moyn returned to the debate, critiquing the absence of a strong theoretical base in both global and long-term histories.15 Other historians, reflecting the anti-globalisation mood after 2008, voiced similar criticisms.
I do not believe that the global approach is in need of a Gibbonian “Vindication”.16
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