Department of Modern History, Politics and International Relations - Modern History
Professor David Christian
D.Phil. (Oxford, 1974)
Office: W6A 406
Phone: +61 2 9850 8769
Fax: +61 2 9850 6594
David Christian (D.Phil. Oxford, 1974) is by training a historian of Russia and the Soviet Union, but since the 1980s he has become interested in World History on very large scales. He taught at Macquarie University in Sydney from 1975 to 2000 before taking up a position at San Diego State University in 2001. In January 2009 he returned to Macquarie University. He has written on the social and material history of the 19th century Russian peasantry, in particular on aspects of diet and the role of alcohol. He has also written a text book history of modern Russia, and a synoptic history of Inner Eurasia (Russia, Central Asia and Mongolia). In 1989, he began teaching courses on 'Big History', surveying the past on the largest possible scales, including those of biology and astronomy; and in 2004, he published the first text on 'Big History'. At San Diego State University, he taught courses on World History, 'Big History', World Environmental History, Russian History, and the History of Inner Eurasia.
He is a member of the Australian Academy of the Humanities and the Koninklijke Hollandsche Maatschappij der Wetenschappen [Royal Holland Society of Sciences and Humanities], Affiliates Chair for the World History Association, and a member of the editorial boards of the Journal of Global History and the Cambridge History of the World. In 2008, he was appointed as a James Marsh Professor-at-Large at the University of Vermont, and also accepted appointments as a Research Fellow at Ewha Women's University in Seoul and as a Professor of History at Macquarie University in Sydney.
In 2009 David Christian received an ARC grant to support research on the second volume of his history of Inner Eurasia, which will cover the history of Russia, Central Asia and Mongolia from the Mongol Empire to the present day. Over the next few years he will also be working with the support of Bill Gates to create an online course in Big History for High School students.
Postgraduate students and their projects
On Cultural Evolution: The Case of France, 400-1789
An analysis of the impact of demographic trends on historical events and human development from the Fall of the Roman Empire to the French Revolution. The project employs several recent theories from the natural sciences that may explain what drives technology, the rise and fall of empires, and human advancement between the agrarian and industrial eras.
David Baker is a PhD student studying Big History under Dr. Christian at Macquarie University. He got his BA and MA at the University of Calgary, Canada. He is a staunch advocate of bridging the gap between what C.P. Snow called the 'two cultures' of the humanities and natural sciences.
Title: Big History Pedagogy, Phenomenology, & Culture
Description: My research examines how the narratives of Big History are
communicated and received. I am particularly interested in how people¹s
identity and relationship with the world may be transformed and how the
¿lived-experience¹ of Big History may ultimately be reflected in culture.
Bio: I am an American with undergraduate degrees in the natural sciences
(BSc. geology & biology) and a master¹s degree in education (EdM. Science
& the Public). I have conducted extensive phenomenological field research
in cosmic evolution and founded a communication project called Omniscopic
to experiment with new narrative structures.
Recent publications include:
- This Fleeting World, Berkshire Publishing: Great Barrington, Mass.: 2007. (A history of humanity in under 100 pages).
- Big History a set of 48 lectures for the Teaching Company, 2008.
- Maps of Time: An Introduction to Big History. Foreword by W.H. McNeill, Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004. (The first modern attempt by a historian to offer a coherent history of the entire past, beginning with the origins of the Universe; an attempt to explore how human history is embedded in the histories of the biosphere and the Universe; Maps of Time won the 2005 WHA History Prize for the best book in world history published in 2004);
- A History of Russia, Central Asia and Mongolia: Vol 1: Inner Eurasia from Prehistory to the Mongol Empire, in The Blackwell History of the World. Oxford: Blackwell, 1998. (The first synoptic study of "Inner Eurasia" from prehistory up to the 13th century; the first of 2 volumes.);
- Imperial and Soviet Russia: Power, Privilege and the Challenge of Modernity. Basingstoke and New York: Macmillan/St. Martin's, 1997. (A textbook survey of Russian and Soviet history.)
- "Living Water": Vodka and Russian Society on the Eve of Emancipation. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990. (A study of the immensely significant role of vodka in the life of Russia's peasants, merchants and government in the middle of the 19th century.)
- R.E.F. Smith & David Christian. Bread & Salt: A Social and Economic History of Food and Drink in Russia. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984, reprinted 2008. (The first general survey in English of the history of food and drink in Russia.)
- MHIS115 An Introduction to World History
Go To Staff List