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UNIT 3: Human Migrations

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READINGS


Reading 1

Candice Goucher, Charles LeGuin, and Linda Walton, In the Balance: Themes in World History (Boston: McGraw-Hill, 1998). Selections from chapter 1, "World History and Human History."

Abstract: This essay considers the origins and early migrations of the human species, as well as the sources of evidence upon which they rely. Archaeological evidence strongly indicates that humans originated in Africa. From there, ancient oral traditions and scientific evidence has demonstrated that they eventually migrated to every habitable portion of the globe. In every new land, humans adapted to the environment in specific ways—ways that eventually led to the development of different cultures around the world.

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Reading 2

David Christian, "The Case for Big History," Journal of World History 2, no. 2 (Fall 1991).

Abstract: This essay makes a case for the benefits of looking at the whole of time in historical inquiry. It begins by exploring some common objections to using such a grand time scale—particularly the objection that such time scales make history impossibly generalized. It then moves to the reasons why "big history" is a useful construct, especially in the field of world history. In particular, "big history" helps historians understand the very recent development of humanity in our universe, the ways in which population growth in the last two hundred years represents an anomaly in human history, and the ways other disciplines—especially the sciences—can help historians better understand the past.

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Reading 3

Robin Cohen, Global Diasporas: An Introduction (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1997). Pp. xii + 228.

Robin Cohen and Zig Layton-Henry, eds. The Politics of Migration, International Library of Studies of Migration, 5 (Cheltenham/Northampton, Mass.: Edward Elgar, 1997). Pp. xxvii + 341.

Abstract: This review looks at two books about diaspora and migration written or edited by Robin Cohen. It argues that in Global Diasporas Cohen has tried to enlarge the scope of diaspora studies by including peoples who did not necessarily migrate as a result of social trauma—thus, he includes Indians, Caribbean peoples, and Arabs in his analysis. He sees diasporic communities as both a challenge to territorial states and as a result of global processes of syncretism. In The Politics of Migration, Cohen compiled a set of previously published essays about the political ramifications of migration and migration policy from a largely Marxist perspective. While this review argues that Politics is a useful book, he also suggests that its essays are dated and reflect the state of the field a quarter century ago.

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