SEMINAR 2.06: Global History and the Construction of Global Citizenship.

Date: May 2022

Place: University of San Agustín, Iloilo. USA (Ateneo de Zamboanga University online)

Leader: Fernando Wulff Alonso



For this work package we propose two training seminars for teachers and researchers in two different institutions: The Ateneo de Zamboanga and the University of San Agustín at Iloilo. We propose ten seminars focused on world history perspectives aimed at offering historical perspectives that help the students to build a perspective of global citizenship in line with the globalization of the planet. Three aspects are emphasized. First, a reflection on current trends in world history, second, rethinking history from this perspective based on relevant period or themes, and third, jointly developing ideas and teaching tools applicable to Filipino students.

Context and objectives

The new world of globalization highlights that human beings are one. Globalization processes have been accompanied by new historiographical orientations and even by a number of popular books that also put on the table the growing interest of non-professional readers to understand the current situation and its origins.
In the new world under construction, increasingly interrelated, we become more and more aware of the limits of traditional world views and perceptions of identities. For example, as an answer and in contrast to a vision of “natural hostility between nations”, in particular neighboring nations, there is a tendency to generate new regional frameworks for relations between countries united -not separated- by neighborhood (ASEAN, European Union…). 

All this is congruent with the changing of traditional perspectives of history that focused on studies of countries as independent planets, in which other countries practically only appeared in the keys of war or diplomacy. In this sense, traditional history used to have difficulties in understanding the world beyond national schemes, and beyond the projection of models equivalent to national ones, but on a broader scale, in the style of Eurocentric models. 

History is one of the fundamental perceptions of the world that we, human beings, have. The idea that the planet is one, that we share it, and that it is the only home we have, is being accepted more quickly than the idea that human beings are also one. However, history clearly proves not only that we are one, but that mixing, change, and interaction are part of the human condition. All our societies are the product of many blending and interaction of previous cultures, not just the contemporary one.

Globalization is not new. We can count up to three previous globalizations. Two unite the Eurasian Continent, the first around the beginning of the Christian era and the second around the 14th century. The third, in the 16th century, unites the entire planet. The latter is also important because it means European hegemony, that is, the initial moment of a cycle that is currently disappearing to give rise to a much more multipolar world, more similar to the previous situation. 

Notwithstanding, these four globalizations are but the high points of a general tendency of humanity to interact and change. 

Any major change in human history in the planet has meant exchanges and movements of peoples and groups. The world globalization led by Europeans in the 16th Century, with the occupation of America and the presence of Europeans in other places of the world,  was preceded, first, by hominid and human occupation, and later by the invention and expansion of agriculture, metals and the development of social complexities, associated to new uses of animals (horses, camels…) and technologies (navigation…) for communication. And later on, the before said two first globalizations are associated to phenomena as conquest, bureaucratic homogenization, new ways of social communication, new technologies or long distance trade, but also to complex ideological and spiritual movements as  represented by Buddhism, Greco-Roman “Mistery religions”, Hinduism, Christianism or, some centuries later, Islam, which are vocationally universal religions.

This perspective shows the complexity of human history and societies excluding ideas of superiority or “evolutionary phases”. Traditional historiographic trends were based on two main concepts: the concepts of “progress” and of “primitive”. They presented western culture as the culmination of human evolution and the remaining societies as stagnant in previous phases or situated in phases without evolution, without history, “primitive”. 

Today we know that “western technological superiority” is a phase in world history preceded by a very different previous situation and that technological superiority does not imply other superiorities, and even more so in a planet that can be destroyed by the abusive use of technologies. And we also know that there is no such thing as peoples without history, because all human beings and societies have a history since we left Africa. Furthermore, many of the so-called “primitives” have chosen to avoid being absorbed into “civilized” societies.

The history of the Philippines is particularly interesting from a world perspective. Before the arrival of the third globalization in the form of the Spanish Empire, the complex reality of the Philippines responded to its position between worlds: Southeast Asia, Northeast Asia (China in particular) and “Australasia”, which accounts for the emergence of polities linked to external societies, commercial networks and processes (Tondo, Butuan, Islam sultanates of Sulu and Maguindanao …). The Spanish Empire connected Philippines with America and the Atlantic Sea, and thus made of the Philippines one of the most important places in the planet exchanges and part of later common world processes as industrialization or anticolonialism. 

The idea of ​​this seminar is to present new approaches applied to key moments and aspects in the history of the world that allow integrating visions and contribute to training students who, while remaining faithful to other identities, understand their place in the world as a shared reality. Their own reality and their present are inseparable from long and short term historical processes. 

Complexity, variation, interaction have been the norm, not the exception. These views can be considered as components just to be added to other items of curricula, but also as principles, as a perspective, a way of orienting research and teaching. 

These seminars are focused in presenting new historiographical perspectives and in suggesting ways of applying them to understand the history of the Philippines and to its teaching, to use the new historiographical concepts to elaborate approaches and didactical tools relevant to the students. 

Learning to be human is to understand how we have become humans and to establish a conscious dialogue with the past that has made us who we are. There is no new world without citizens able to understand their position as global citizens, part of humanity.


We propose 10 seminars of 4 hours (=40 h)

I. Introduction. The historiographic currents of global history. Human beings in the world. 

1. Main historiographic currents of global history. 

2. The context of human self-conscience entailed in these currents.

3. The confluences of global history and ecology. 

4. The main human developments before history as examples of interaction with the planet. 

5. The homo sapiens occupation of the world. 

6. New relationship with nature after the invention of agriculture and sedentarism.

7. Societies and ecological success or failure: the Jared Diamond’s debate as example. 

8. The strange place of man.

II. Urban Revolutions in the Eurasian Continent and Africa. Main processes in a planetary view. 

1. Major processes of urban society developments between Greece, Egypt and China. (3000-1000 B. C.). Common bases. 

2. The human drive to complex societies and urbanization. The case of America as an isolated world which gives place to similar phenomena. New dimensions of power, social hierarchies and inequalities, organization and social communication, 

3. The other side of urbanization. Nomads and other societies without state.  The case of James C. Scott on Upland Southeast Asia as a resistance zone to urbanization.

4. The new dimensions of contact and cultural changes and exchanges. The expansion of urban revolutions. The spheres of knowledge and writing. The generation of common spaces and worlds. Coins as example. 

5. Looking at the future. The great cultural focuses. West Asia and the  Persian Empire. Egypt. Unified Qin and Han China. 

III. The first globalization around the change of era. Universal religions.

1. The constitution of a globalized world in the Eurasian continent around the change of era. The Silk Road, Rome, China, India (Kushans). From the Mediterranean Sea to the South China Sea.

2. Routes, exchanges, interactions. East Asia in perspective. 

3. Universal religions. Buddhism, Hinduism, mystery religions, Christianity in a global world.

4. The perception of universality: travelers, peregrines and geographers.

5. Inheritances and continuities. Greece and Rome. Roman law as an example

Han China and Chinese model and culture in East Asia. 

IV. East Asia in a global perspective. States and routes between China and India. Philippines in History

1. Rivers and trade routes and generation of states in East Asia. 

2. New states in North East Asia (Japan and Korea) and the Chinese influence. 

3. New states in South east Asia and the Indian influence: rivers and commercial networks. “Indianization” and the “Sanskrit community” (Pollock). Hinduism and Buddhism. 

5. Continental Asia complexities: the case of the multicultural Tang China.  The role of Central Asia and the example of the Turks. 

6. Origins and spread of Islam. From West Asia to Spain and the South China sea. Merchants and pilgrims in the creation of new networks. 

7. Philippines as a contact space and as a border space. 

V. The second globalization (XIII-XV). Human developments in a multipolar world 

1. Societies and cultural developments before European world hegemony. A world system of regional states and cultural variations. China, SE Asia. NE Asia, Central Asia, Africa and Europe.

2. The two corners of the Eurasian continent. Europe: cities and states between the “age of Cathedrals” and the Renaissance. China between the Mongols and the Ming. 

2. Multipolar transmission of ideas, inventions, vegetables, animals and… plagues.

3. Routes and contacts. Maps and technology (astrolabes, compasses, navigation charts)

4. Travelers and their writings as examples of multipolarity and of the conscience of a shared world.  Marco Polo, Ibn Battuta, Ibn Khaldun, Zheng He.

5. A final view from the Philippines

VI. An introduction to Early Modern and Modern World System: Structures and Processes 

1. The third globalization as conducted by Europeans.

2. East Asia before the West. The Sinocentric system: a Confucian view of the world. Chinese soft power and tributary embassies. Asia in Western eyes. The so-called “Age of Discovery”. European trade and evangelization. The image of China in Europe. Great Britain in India.

3. The Columbian Exchange: a biological globalization. The ecosystem before and after 1492: Jared Diamond´s Guns, Germs and Steel

4. Hobsbawm´s Ages of Revolution and Empire. Industrial and liberal revolutions. The Chinese Downfall. The I World War. Russian Revolution. 

5. Hobsbawm´s Age of Extremes. The rise of Fascism and the II World War. A bilateral world: The Cold War. Decolonization and the “third world”. The end of the Cold War and new perspectives in a globalized word. The return of China and East Asia and the recovery of a multipolar world. 

6. The world nowadays: the fourth globalization. The world wide web. Post-truth politics. The Asiatic counterbalance. The role of the Philippines in the region. 

VII. The Hispanic Monarchy: a global Empire (XV-XIX) 

1. The World before America and America before the World. From Ptolemy to Vespucci. 

2. Columbus´ Dream: Providentialism and Anthropocentrism in a man between two Ages. Bulls of Donation: a religious legitimation for a New World Order.

3. Evangelization and forced labor: the inner organization of the Empire. The Colonial Compact. 

4. The role of the Philippines in a global Empire. The “tornaviaje”. Manila galleon. A remote colony.  

5. Alternative empires: Portuguese, British, Dutch, French, Ottoman and Russian constructions.  Their presence and activities in South East Asia.

6. The XIX Century downfall of the Hispanic Empire in the context of imperialist expansions. American Independence: a creole (and white) process. Ex uno plures and e pluribus unum: two key concepts. 

VIII. Humanity 

1. Otherness and selfhood in a global word (XV-XIX). The concept of otherness/alterity. A world of infidels: monotheism or the only truth religion. The myth of the good savage. The “barbarians of Luzon”: a case study. 

2. A global debate on human rights (XV-XVIII). The cry of Montesinos (1511) and its consequences. Las Casas: protector of the Indians. A Short Account on the Destruction of the Indies (1542). The School of Salamanca and the law of nations. Francisco de Vitoria.  The New Laws (1542). 

3. The so-called Spanish “Dark Legend”. International criticism against Spain and its conquest of the New World. Columbus revisited: the 12th of October under the spotlight.

4. Slavery in Early Modern and Modern World. Triangular trade. 

5. The resonance of these debates in the Philippines. 

IX. Imperialism and its consequences

1. Nationalism, Capitalism and Imperialism: a triple paradigm. 

2. European distribution of the World. Gunboat diplomacy. The Opium Wars. The Berlin Conference (1884-85). Consequences of these arbitrary borders today.

3. Asia, Africa and America under exploitation. A plantation economy. Colonies and protectorates. China under the unequal treaties. The counterexample of Japan.

4. The rise of the United States of America. Three fundamental concepts to understand it: Manifest Destiny, Monroe Doctrine and Big Stick ideology. The Southern contrast: Galeano´s Open Veins of Latin America

5. South East Asia processes and the Philippine exceptionality. The Spanish 1898 and the Philippines. The last of the Philippines. The role of the USA. 

6. Identities and empires: destructions and constructions. 

X. Crossed views

1. Imperialism and Kipling´s white man´s burden. Progress, evolutionism and sense of superiority. 

2. Kipling´s critics. Voices against imperialism, from Tolstoi and Mark Twain to Gandhi. Democratic countries with colonies: a paradox. 

3. Orientalism. Said’s theory. Exoticism and backwardness in Romantic mentality. 

4. A Postcolonial world: elites and identities. Political and social contradictions behind speeches of independence and freedom. 

5. The new place of globalization and new ways of understanding identities in the context of a world heading to multipolarity. History as the human  intellectual instrument to think past and present. Global processes and global history today.

6. Philippine identity: a nation amongst empires in the context of South East Asia. A last view to historical processes.

Objectives and work plan

As noted above, the main objective of the seminars is to present world history perspectives aimed at generating a worldview that prepares students for global citizenship.

Each seminar proposes a vision focused in this direction on essential aspects of the history of the world, that is, of the set of human processes that have made the world as it is today, and us as we are. 

Each seminar will have two parts: an exposition of the main theme, and a workshop phase in which it will be discussed which of these components could be at the same time formative and attractive for students to become aware of the historical dimensions of everything around them.

Obviously, the only possibility to do it is by being familiar with curricula and students, which is the role of the other participants in the seminaries.  

However, we could offer some suggestions. For example, 

1.  The diversity of cultures and peoples in the Philippines and its historical explanation.  Different cultures and uses of natural resources (sea, agriculture…). Ecological balance as a human problem and the situation in Philippines. The dynamics of judgment of peoples and cultures in terms of progress / non-progress, and discriminations.  Ecological problems today in a historical perspective.

2. Organization of states, keys in organization, communication, inequalities and common values ​​of justice, the role of law. The human cultural heritage: from the Pyramids to the Parthenon or the Chinese wall. The invention and the meaning of money as a tool for exchange. The origins and potentialities of written culture and the transition from written culture to cultural creations and constructions in the digital age.

3. The evidence of previous globalizations, and the world as product of contact and exchanges and the dynamics of change/ continuities. The role of empires past and present. Empires as destructors and constructors of identities. Great universal religions today. The origins of Christianity. Cultural traditions founded and transmitted in that age and their role today: Greek culture, Roman law, the role of confucianism in Asia today. … 

4. The multicultural context of the formative centuries of creation of polities in South East Asia and the Philippine position. The specific ecological conditions of South East Asia and its position between cultures: the confluence of Chinese (Vietnam) and Indic influences in south East Asia. The understanding of the role of Buddhism and Hinduism in South East Asia societies, first, and of Islam later, and variations as an essential component of Islam against a fundamentalist image. It opens also the possibility of commenting the beginning of the first complex societies related to those processes. 

5. The second globalization offers the possibility of understanding a moment of exchange between different cultures of the Old Continent, which is previous to European hegemony. It is again a good departure point to see how the development of states and connections in South East Asia has a projection in polities in the Philippines. Far away processes can impact processes in the Philippines, as the construction of churches in Europe.  Curiosity and interest for other cultures are connected by European, Chinese and Muslim travelers who write texts for interested readers. It can be connected with other written testimonies from Herodotus or Si-Maqian. The normality of cultural encounters and of the reflection on cultural differences.

6. The Age of Discovery supposed an intensification of the Global process. During the Early Modern Period, Eastern Asia remained a cultural horizon for Europeans, whereas China continued to fashion itself as uninterested in those traders and monks who were coming from the other side of the world. But the truth was that China needed silver, and Europeans had plenty of it. The Iberian Monarchies connected the World and the Columbian Exchange spread people, culture, species and diseases.  In the XIX Century, two of the greatest Early Modern Empires –Hispanic and Chinese-, collapsed. World became unbalanced and Western powers (mainly Great Britain and France) took control of the world. In the XX Century, the Cold War had an enormous influence in the Decolonization of countries which turned to be pieces of the chessboard where the USA and the URSS played their hegemonic game. This module will be an excellent opportunity to analyze in what extent we are heirs of that period, particularly now that the world seems to balance again, at least from a geostrategic point of view.

7. 1492 changed the world perspective for the people of America, Eurasia and Africa. The traditional maps became global while explorers travelled around the world to “discover” regions which were already there. The most significant Empire of this period was the Hispanic one, which extended from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean and exploited the people and resources of its colonies arguing an ultimate good as was the saving of indigenous souls by converting them to the Catholic religion. The propaganda and self-definition of other empires and their continuity until today can be an interesting  theme, as for example, in the case of the British Empire, under strong revision today. 

8. The third globalization implied the contact of people around the world, people who were compelled to develop discourses to understand “the other”. Alterity had never worked in such a level of complexity before. In America and the Philippines, the debate on Human Rights run parallel with the exploitation of man by man. While Americans were forced to convert and work, slavery affected in the most traumatic way to African population of the coast. In the XIX and XX Centuries, Europeans were able to develop rules based on a double standard view: more or less democratic rights in the metropolis and a status of vassalage for the inhabitants of the colonies. At the same time, it is important to recall how from very different perspectives there were critical positions defending individual and collective human rights. Human rights today as a complex product of human evolution. 

9. Imperialism supposed a deep change of the World. Together with their alleged “civilization”, Europeans transported nationalism and capitalism, two ideologies which conformed the paradigm which still rules the world. The Opium Wars showed that China, the former world reference, was not capable to confront countries like Great Britain and France. Industrial and liberal revolutions happened to be more powerful than tradition. Chinese cult of the past, the origin of its millennial prestige and strength had now become the source of its weakness. Meanwhile, in America, the United States gave their first steps to become a late Imperial power, being Cuba and the Philippines the two first tests of their famous Big Stick Ideology. The example of Japan after 1853, first a hope for  non-European countries, and soon an imperialist power. Philippine history in this context and compared to other South East Asian countries in the XIX century: Burma, Malaysia, Vietnam and Indonesia. 

10. During the XIX and XX centuries, a new Eurocentric system ruled the world and settled the basis of Modernity. Kipling´s poem, The white man´s burden encouraged the United States to conquest the Philippines and to assume its responsibility as allegedly superior country (and people). Nonetheless, movements and intellectuals of all around the world developed a message of equality and resistance, being Gandhi and –ultimately– Mandela the most charismatic holders of the Speech of Freedom of the exploited world. How new perspectives during and after colonization shaped other ways of looking at the world? Said’s thought opened the way for a critic of western biases in intellectual fields. However, after more than half a century of postcolonial states, the reflection on new elites, identities and politics in the ex-colonial countries becomes essential. The difficult balance of the past in an example:  human rights or science are products of Western imperialism or part of the human evolution with a place in a new more human world? Just a destructive view of the last five centuries? How our perspective of history determines our world view? Philippine and global identities: lessons of the past? 



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