Friday, 21 May 2010

Alternate world histories

Tamim Ansary has written an alternate world history. Born in Afghanistan and settled in America, Ansary was asked to edit a school book on history and his job was to identify the significant world events, divided into ten units, each unit with three chapters. Thus, the world history had to be broken down into thirty chapters.

In the introduction to his new book, Ansary explains his experience of dealing with members of his school editorial committee, negotiating with them about what events can be significant enough to go into those chapters, and how those persons didn't see Islam as important enough to have a chapter.

Ansary says, from the view point of the academics in the West, the world history can be sub-divided more or less into the following significant areas - birth of civilization (Egypt and Mesopotamia); the classical age (Greece and Rome); upper rennaisance (spread of Christianity); Rennaisance and riforms; Illuminism (sicence and exploration); the revolutions (democratic, industrial and technological); the coming up of nation states and the fight for the empires; first and the second world wars; the cold war; and the triumph of democratic capitalism.

However, Ansary proposes to look at the world from the point of view of Islam and to identify their significant events for the world history, and he comes up with the following list - The antiquity (Mesopotamia and Persia); birth of Islam; the Caliphate and the search for universal unity; the fragmentation - the era of Sultanates; the catastrophe - the crusades and the mongols; the rennaisance and the era of three empires; the permeation of the Orient by the West; the reform movements; the triumph of modernist lays; and the Islamic reaction.

Thus, Ansary has written a book called, "Destiny disrupted. A history of world through Islamic eyes".

I like the idea of the book and I think that it will be interesting to read about the world and the events through an alternate point of view. The Western worldview is so dominating that we end up thinking that this is the only way there is to look at the world.

I think that it will be equally interesting to read about the world histories as seen by other points of views. For example, from India, what events we see as significant, that shaped the world? Probably it will start around Mohanjodaro and Harappa, go on to spread of agricutlure in the Ganges valley? What role will play Ashoka and Buddha in shaping the history of the whole Asian continent?

And the Chinese world history, how it will it differ from others? And the worldview of an African or a south Amerindian?

Perhaps, some book publisher will bring together persons from all over the world to write an alternate world history, that brings together the significant events from all our pasts! I would like to read that.

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