The World-System Perspective in the Construction of Economic History

Author(s): Abu-Lughod, Janet Lippman

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Abstract Examines the experience of rewriting historical narratives from a world-system perspective, drawing on the author's attempt to construct an integrated image of the world economy in the thirteenth century. Searching for an intermediate epistemological path between unanchored postmodern hermeneutics & overconfident positivism, it is argued that three apparent deviations from the ideals of positivist social science -- ironically labeled eccentricity, ideology, & idiosyncrasy -- can yield significant "remakings" of world history. Eccentricity, namely, recognizing perspectives other than those that conventionally view the world through the eyes of the West, can help historians to escape from ethnocentrism or Eurocentrism. Ideology is essential if historians are to select & integrate new material; & idiosyncrasy in the interests & backgrounds of historians can often be the source of the revision so essential for challenging earlier historical narratives. Adapted from the source document.
Publication Title History and Theory
Publisher Wesleyan University
Publication Date 05/1995
Keywords Analysis
Economic History
Economic history
Methodology (Philosophical)
Middle Ages
Political Science
World Economy
World System Theory
World history
economic history construction, world-system perspective
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