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UNIT 1: Maps, Time, and World History

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VIDEO SEGMENT: Chronological Constructs

Periodization can be defined as the way historians organize time. This segment looks at this concept and demonstrates that the ways we organize time influence the ways we think about the past. For example, when historians organize the period 1492-1800 into a framework known as the "Age of Exploration," European events and patterns become the focus. In other words, such a framework means that both earlier and later explorations—including the early Pacific voyages of the Polynesians, the movement of Malay sailors around the Indian Ocean, the tribute trips of Zheng He, and recent space exploration—are ignored.

For historians to ask global questions that step out of traditional boxes, they need to vary the units of time they study just as they vary the spatial units they analyze. It is also clear that time is not perceived the same way across time or in all cultures. Societies are as diverse in their interpretation of the nature of time as they are in their belief systems and histories. In the Judeo-Christian tradition, there is an emphasis on linear, progressive time that will result in the coming of the Messiah. Other cultures view time cyclically.

It is important for world historians to be conscious about the ways they use time. It is also important for world historians to understand the ways cultures have understood time in both the past and present.

SELECTED IMAGES AND MAPS


Anonymous Native American, WINTER COUNT, FIRST PERIOD (n.d.). Courtesy of the John Wilson Room, Multnomah County Library, Portland, Oregon.

Anonymous, CARNIVAL FLOAT (n.d.). Courtesy of AP/Wide World Photos.


Anonymous, 1338 DEPICTION OF VENICE (1338). Courtesy of Northwind Picture Archives.

Anonymous, INKAN TEMPLE OF THE SUN, CUZCO, PERU (n.d.). Courtesy of Northwind Picture Archives.



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