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Abstract Diversity Society

Contending Voices: Problems in World History

A blog devoted to the research and teaching of the history of humanity, aimed at enlivening the teaching of history, linking it to current social problems and debates.

 

Photo by Iñaki del Olmo/Unsplash

The Case for ‘Bottom-Up’ History

The “bottom-up” approach to world history focuses on the most basic elements of human existence. It identifies problems and explores them through individual and group behavior, relying on multiple disciplines, especially anthropology. The objective is to link basic levels of society to the higher scales of activity. The work of E.P. Thompson provides valuable context.

Sketch of a Cottage Yard, Winslow Homer (c. 1876)

Diasporas—Amidst Empires and Nations

Peoples of the world are divided today into nations, which replaced the empires that dominated in earlier centuries. But that is not all. Diasporas took shape as millions of people migrated from their homelands, linking common cultures across geographical and political boundaries.

Azadi Square in Tehran, 2017. Photo by Sam Moghadam Khamseh

Interactions in History

The events of history do not happen in a vacuum. Societies are deeply connected through their cultures and the exchange of ideas and values; they constantly interact and influence one another. This academic exercise helps students explore such interactions more deeply.

Introducing the United Nations

The United Nations is the world's principal international organization, comprising 193 national governments. This blog post provides more information about the UN's organizational structure and activities and includes an academic exercise to encourage deeper understanding.

Settling the Americas

Recent research has shown that the human occupation of the Americas took place much earlier than previously thought. As documentation about the first Americans builds and new evidence about their experiences is uncovered, we gain a better understanding of the variety and innovation of early settlers throughout the hemisphere.

Design by SciAni

How Have Processes of Evolution Changed Households?

Processes of evolution transform every aspect of human life. Households—the human centers of eating, resting, sleeping, and child-rearing—have evolved, too. This essay lists steps that show how the processes of biological, cultural, and social evolution have changed households.

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The Case for Deepening World History

The Contending Voices blog—initially focused on debating today’s social priorities—is shifting toward exploring the principles, problems, and possibilities of the study of world history. By examining these questions, we may gain insights into addressing some of the very serious crises that humans face today.

Photo by Duncan Shaffer on Unsplash

Women Still Face Cruelty. That’s Why They’re Still Fighting Back: Stories from 2021

A collection of news stories from 2021 showcase the diverse and powerful voices that are working to uplift women around the world. Despite this, there remain many individuals, groups, and institutions committed to shouting those voices down.

Capitalism and Socialism: the Yin and Yang of Our Industrial World

Capitalism and socialism are contending sets of social priorities that came out of the same social situation: they are the Yin and Yang of industrial society. Both sets of priorities—even when badly out of balance—are essential for society to thrive. Is it possible that “democracy” could create a civil discourse and help to balance Yin and Yang?

To Limit Pollution and Improve Social Welfare, Stop Focusing on Growth

Plastic, cardboard, and methane are being produced, used, and thrown away in growing quantities. This threatens to destroy the social fabric of life on Earth—not to mention life itself. For decades, economic growth has been billed as the only path forward: With a booming economy, there will finally be enough to go around for everyone, and social welfare can then be improved. But there is already enough to go around. To improve social welfare, what we need now is to share more of what is currently being produced.

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In Pursuit of Freedom

Claims for freedom by Black Lives Matter demonstrators and by MAGA supporters show that there can be clashing meanings of “freedom.” What factors are contributing to this tension? This essay explores the ways in which social and ethnic groups and society’s many institutions complicate the concept of freedom. It points to a basic lesson: Learning and compromises are necessary before we can agree on what it means to be free.

Should the U.S. Rejoin UNESCO?

The United States has been an active member of UNESCO for just 10 of the last 40 years. If the U.S. rejoins, it would not just be re-upping its membership in a global organization, it would be rejoining the global community of science and culture.

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