June

History Professors Examine Cross-Cultural Encounters in New Book

June 08, 2012

Cross-Cultural Encounters in Modern World History

“Cross-Cultural Encounters in Modern World History,” is written by Jon Davidann, Ph.D., professor of history and humanities, and Marc Gilbert, Ph.D., professor of history and National Endowment for the Humanities Endowed Chair of World History at HPU.

HONOLULU — Two Hawai‘i Pacific University history department professors have authored a new book offering a fresh, accessible perspective on how cultures intersect – a topic of growing international focus, as connections between people and nations increasingly provide new opportunities and generate complex conflicts.

“Cross-Cultural Encounters in Modern World History,” recently published by Pearson, is written by Jon Davidann, Ph.D., professor of history and humanities, and Marc Gilbert, Ph.D., professor of history and National Endowment for the Humanities Endowed Chair of World History at HPU.

“We can’t look at differences between cultures anymore,” said Davidann, who also serves as director of HPU’s International Exchange and Study Abroad Program. “The book distills spaces between cultures.”

The book explores cultural contact as an agent of change. It takes an encounters approach to world history since 1500, rather than a political one, to reveal different perspectives and experiences.

“It doesn’t prejudice one culture over the other, or create victims or victors. It tries to see the burden of history that falls on both,” said Gilbert, who also serves as president of the World History Association.

The authors said the multi-cultural environment at HPU — which has been recognized by U.S. News and World Report as one of the top universities in the western region with the most international students — was one of the motivations to write the book. The university is increasing international outreach, with a special focus on Asian nations, and expects to draw more students from that region to Honolulu in coming years.

“What you have here in Hawai‘i is an incredible mixing of cultures,” Davidann said. “You are finding the spaces between cultures all the time here. It was part of the impetus to write the book.”

“It honors all the cultures that are involved in the exchanges and encounters,” said Gilbert. “It’s also accessible. Students can have no difficulty in absorbing it, and the community at large can read it, as well.”

The book will be used this fall in courses ranging from world history to sociology. For more information or to see a preview, visit the Pearson website.

Hawai‘i Pacific University is one of the most culturally diverse universities in the world, with students from all 50 states and more than 100 countries, with approximately one-third of the student population from outside the United States. It is the state’s largest private university with more than 8,000 students and is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, the Council on Social Work Education, the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission, and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

Jon Davidann, Ph.D.

Jon Davidann, Ph.D.

Marc Gilbert, Ph.D.

Marc Gilbert, Ph.D.