Eric Hobsbawm was a renowned British historian who is widely regarded as one of the most influential historians of the 20th century. Born in Alexandria, Egypt, in 1917 to a Jewish family, Hobsbawm lived through tumultuous times that greatly influenced his views on history. He died in London in 2012 at the age of 95.
Hobsbawm’s conception of world history is centered on the idea that history is not just a collection of facts and events but a continuous process that shapes and influences our present and future. He believed that history should be studied from a global perspective rather than focusing on individual nations or regions.
One of Hobsbawm’s major contributions to world history was his concept of the “long nineteenth century” which refers to the period between 1789 and 1914. According to Hobsbawm, this period saw significant changes in politics, economics, social structures, and culture that laid the foundation for the modern world. He argued that this period should be studied as a whole rather than being divided into separate national histories.
Hobsbawm also emphasized the role of capitalism in shaping world history. He believed that capitalism had driven economic growth and technological progress but had also led to inequality and exploitation. He argued that understanding the impact of capitalism on different societies was crucial to understanding world history.
Furthermore, Hobsbawm’s conception of world history emphasized the importance of social movements in bringing about change. He viewed social movements such as labor unions, civil rights movements, and feminist movements as integral to shaping political and social structures.
In addition to his contributions to world history, Hobsbawm was also known for his Marxist views on politics and economy. He believed that capitalism was inherently flawed and would eventually lead to its own downfall. This view is reflected in his works such as “The Age Of Revolution: Europe 1789-1848” and “The Age of Empire: 1875-1914”.
In conclusion, Eric Hobsbawm was a pioneering historian who greatly influenced the way we understand world history. His emphasis on a global perspective, the role of capitalism, and social movements have shaped the way historians approach the study of history. His works continue to be widely read and studied today, making him an enduring figure in the field of history.