Miles Ogborn


On his book Global Lives: Britain and the World, 1550-1800

Cover Interview of May 08, 2009


What emerged from the process of writing this book was perhaps more interesting than I imagined when I set out to produce a work that my students (and hopefully others) would find accessible, appealing and perhaps surprising.  The need to think through the role of people’s actions and understandings in the broader processes of global change led me to think carefully about how we understand action and agency.  In part this was simply a reaffirmation of the notion (from Karl Marx) that people make history but not under conditions of their own choosing.  But it was also a recognition that those actions and the conditions within which they occur are more closely interwoven than accounts of globalisation usually make out.  Individuals’ actions depend upon the actions of others.  Those who wish to act to change the world must work through the actions – conscious and unconscious, routine and exceptional – of others who are trying to prosecute their own projects, or just trying to get by.  I would like to think that this recognition of action in relation to the processes of globalisation can underpin a hopeful stance in relation to the possibilities of global change.

© 2009 Miles Ogborn