UNESCO and their publishing partner Yilin Press launched the Chinese version of UNESCO’s epic work on the “History of the Scientific and Cultural Development of Mankind” or “History of Humanity”. The Chinese version, which took five years to translate, was launched at the London Book Fair at a ceremony attended by an international group of historians and publishers.
Since its inception one of UNESCO’s monumental achievements has been to reassess the history of mankind and the contribution of different cultures and civilizations to the general progress of humanity. Not in an abstract or academic fashion, but with the desire to share knowledge and build tools for mutual understanding among peoples. It is a universal history of the human mind encompassing a multiplicity of points of view, memories and opinions to be found in the various cultures of the world.
The Scientific and Cultural Development of Mankind is the first collection of the General and Regional Histories that was launched by UNESCO in 1952. The first six-volume edition was completed in 1968. The second edition, renamed History of Humanity and launched in 1980, has been completed in 2008. This collection written in English has been translated into French, Italian, Spanish, Russian, Portuguese and now Chinese. This collection comprises contributions from 490 experts. An International Commission of the History of the Scientific and Cultural Development of Humankind, consisting of thirty scholars of international repute has ensured the intellectual and scientific responsibilities in writing and publishing the connection. The current edition took 28 years to be elaborated and published with the contribution of numerous well-known Chinese scholars like Pang Pu, Xia Nai, Zhang Changshou, Zhou Yiliang, Ji Shuli, Tao Wenzhao, Jia Lanpo, Wu Rukang, Zhang Guangda, Zhang Guangzhi.
The History of Humanity, which aimed at “ disarming” historical narratives, provides readers with the broadest possible picture of the different cultures of the world and of their distinct development. Rather than imposing a particular philosophy of history, it accords all contributions and philosophies their rightful place. The emphasis is interactions among cultures and the shared values consolidated through the exchanges.
At the ceremony the UNESCO representative thanked Yilin Press and the Phoenix Publishing and Media Group for their “unswaying collaboration to translate and make accessible UNESCO’s vision of mankind”.
In a period where violent extremism is targeting all forms of tolerance, diversity and intercultural dialogue. In turbulent times, the History of Humanity stands out as a symbol of hope and dialogue that we must cherish and defend. It is not only a History OF Humanity it is the History FOR Humanity, a force to counter, what Shakespeare called, “the common curse of mankind -- folly and ignorance.”