Pandemic Rereads is one of my lockdown projects. Over the next few months I have set myself the goal of going through my study bookshelves in search of books that I have not read in a while. These are books I don’t regularly use in my research or teaching, and so they cry out to be reappraised. I do not claim to be an expert on these books, so I am sure that I am missing many of the nuances in the texts that have been picked up by real experts. Hopefully, though, there is value in casting a fresh pair of eyes over a text that we think we know.
Today I post my thoughts on rereading Adda B. Bozeman’s Politics and Culture in International History. I first came across this book after finishing my MA, but before I started my PhD. I was disappointed with the lack of historical depth in International Relations (IR), and I was looking for books that looked at global politics through a more historical lens that took the field back before 1500. I got more than I bargained for, as Bozeman challenged not just the ahistorical nature of IR, but also its West-only bias. While lacking the critical eye of Eric R. Wolf’s later book Europe and the People Without History (another book I read at that time), it was still refreshingly global in its coverage when compared to the rest of the field. While I have occasionally gone back to Wolf’s book, Bozeman’s has remained unread amidst my other books on ancient and medieval history. The pandemic is an opportunity to reread this forgotten work.
A quick aside: when I was co-editor of the International History Review the late Nick Rengger had approached us with the idea of writing an article on Adda Bozeman. Sadly, he never did write the article.
Page numbers in the text refer to the original paperback version: Adda B. Bozeman, Politics and Culture in International History (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1960)