The University of Newcastle, Australia

Prof Philip Dwyer co-edits Cambridge World History of Violence Four Volume set

Wednesday, 12 February 2020

Director of the Centre for the Study of Violence, Professor Philip Dwyer has co-edited the four-volume Cambridge World History of Violence, which is the first collection of its kind to look at violence across different periods of human history and different regions of the world.

It capitalises on the growing scholarly interest in the history of violence, which is emerging as one of the key intellectual issues of our time. Professor Dywer said the volumes take into account the latest scholarship in the field and comprise the work of nearly 140 scholars, who have contributed substantial chapters to provide an authoritative treatment of violence from a multiplicity of perspectives.

“The collection offers the reader a wide-ranging thematic treatment of the historical contexts of different types of violence, as well as a compendium of experience shared by peoples across time,” he said.

The books will be officially launched at Oxford University in April 2020.

The Cambridge World History of Violence, Volume 1 – The Prehistoric and Ancient Worlds

Covering the Palaeolithic through to the end of classical antiquity, the chapters in this first volume take a global perspective spanning sub-Saharan Africa, the Near East, Europe, India, China, Japan and Central America. Unlike many previous works, this book does not focus only on warfare but examines violence as a broader phenomenon. The historical approach complements, and in some cases critiques, previous research on the anthropology and psychology of violence in the human story. Written by a team of contributors who are experts in each of their respective fields, Volume 1 will be of particular interest to anyone fascinated by archaeology and the ancient world.

The Cambridge World History of Violence, Volume 2 – 500 – 1500 CE

Violence permeated much of social life across the vast geographical space of the European, Asian, and Islamic worlds and through the broad sweep of what is often termed the Middle Millennium (roughly 500 to 1500). Focusing on four contexts in which violence occurred across this huge area, the contributors to this volume explore the formation of centralized polities through war and conquest; institution building and ideological expression by these same polities; control of extensive trade networks; and the emergence and dominance of religious ecumenes. Attention is also given to the idea of how theories of violence are relevant to the specific historical circumstances discussed in the volume's chapters. A final section on the depiction of violence, both visual and literary, demonstrates the ubiquity of societal efforts to confront meanings of violence during this longue duree.

The Cambridge World History of Violence, Volume 3 – 1500 – 1800 CE

In the period from 1500 to 1800 the problem of violence necessitated asking fundamental questions and formulating answers about the most basic forms of human organization and interactions. Violence spoke to critical issues such as the problem of civility in society, the nature of political sovereignty and the power of the state, the legitimacy of conquest and subjugation, the possibilities of popular resistance, and the manifestations of ethnic and racial unrest. Violence also provided the raw material for profound meditations on humanity and for examining our relationship to the divine and natural worlds. In this, the third volume of The Cambridge World History of Violence, the editors examine a world in which global empires were consolidated and expanded, and in which civilisations for the first time linked to each other by transoceanic contacts and a sophisticated world trade system.

The Cambridge World History of Violence, Volume 4 – 1800 to the present

This book explores one of the most intractable problems of human existence - our propensity to inflict violence. It provides readers with case studies of political, social, economic, religious, structural and interpersonal violence from across the entire globe since 1800. It also examines the changing representations of violence in diverse media and the cultural significance of its commemoration. Together, the chapters provide in-depth understanding of the ways that humans have perpetrated violence, justified its use, attempted to contain its spread, and narrated the stories of its impacts. Readers also gain insight into the mechanisms by which the parameters about the acceptable limits to and locations of violence have dramatically altered over the course of a few decades. Leading experts from around the world have pooled their knowledge to provide concise, authoritative examinations of the complex phenomenon of human violence. Annotated bibliographies provide overviews of the shape of the research field.


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