Local Internationalists? The Esperanto movement and Internationalism, c.1880s-1930

English is today’s Globish. Today, English is the language that eases international trade, cross-border and cross-cultural communication. English is part and parcel of the most recent phase of globalisation and internationalism since c.1945. While there are pragmatic, historical, and linguistic reasons for English as the globally dominant language, such dominance is not without problems as a language – along with its cultural implications – imposes hierarchies. The native speaker will always be in a dominant cultural position vis-à-vis the non-native speaker.

Do they still not speak Esperanto?

Around 1900 English was not yet the dominant global language. French was in decline to some extent. German made up ground in the sciences and engineering along industrialisation and science in the later nineteenth century, yet it was deemed as too complex to take over. It was the auxiliary, artificial language Esperanto that promised to fill that void around 1900 as a universal second language.

For more information on our new ITSH-based project “Esperanto and Internationalism, c.1880s-1930”, starting in September 2019, see here.

ITSH Mondays in Autumn 2019

Welcome to our weekly ITSH Institute Mondays in the autumn semester AY2019-20.

We will start our weekly sessions on 16 September 2019 with a Reading Group on Fabian, Johannes. Time and the Other: How Anthropology Makes Its Object. Columbia University Press, 1983. It will open with comments from Konrad Lawson. 

Our sessions are open to all staff and students. Venue and Time are: 1-3pm, Old Seminar Room, St John’s House, 71 South Street.

Texts will be pre-circulated for some of the sessions. Please email Konrad Lawson (kml8@st-andrews.ac.uk). The full programme is available under Events.

Call for Applications: PhD Studentship “Esperanto 4.0. Millennials and the global Esperanto movement in historical and anthropological perspective”

PhD Studentship in Social Anthropology & Modern History

The deadline for applications is 5pm on 25 May 2019.

The project “Esperanto 4.0: Millennials and the global Esperanto movement in historical and anthropological perspective” invites applications for one PhD studentship, for applicants to start at the University of St Andrews in September 2019. The student will examine the current resurging interest in the artificial and neutral language Esperanto among millennial Esperanto speakers and activists in an anthropological-historical perspective.

The project seeks to address – among others – the following questions:

  • To what extent are current Esperanto-speakers driven by similar or different agendas and ideals as previous generations of Esperanto-speakers?
  • To what extent are current speakers aware of the historical origins and the legacy of the language and the broader movement?
  • How do millennials interact within the wider Esperanto community in comparison to previous generations (travel, congresses, local and national societies, media and online forums)?
  • To Millennial Esperantists, what are the limits and potentials to revive the movement within the current social, economic, political, and cultural climate?

The main focus of the project is to conduct ethnographic fieldwork, in form of meetings, informal and informal interviews and oral history, regarding Millennial Esperantists. The successful candidate will find a highly stimulating research environment and joint supervision from Social Anthropology and History. The studentship allows for the development of a flexible and independent interdisciplinary project around today’s Esperanto community in a historical perspective. While the project is a free-standing PhD project it will be embedded into a wider project on “Esperanto & Internationalism, c. 1880s-1930” (Dr Bernhard Struck, School of History).

We are looking for a PhD candidate trained in Social Anthropology or History. This could include someone with a joint degree or someone with a Masters and Undergraduate degrees in the disciplines. Applicants should have completed a taught-postgraduate degree (or equivalent) with a good Masters degree by September 2019. It is expected that the student will know or be willing to learn Esperanto. The studentship is funded through the St Leonard’s College Interdisciplinary Doctoral Scholarships Scheme at the University of St Andrews. The scholarships comprise a full-fee waiver and stipend for the normal full-fee paying period. The stipend will be paid at the current Research Council rate (£14,777 in 2018-19). The scholarship may be awarded to a UK/EU or international applicant.

For a full outline of the project rationale, see PDF version Interdisciplinary PhD – Esperanto Project. The project is part of a wider project on “Esperanto and Internationalism, c.1880s-1930” with another PhD starting in September 2019 on Poland in local and transnational perspectives.

Applicants should apply for a PhD place via the University of St Andrews standard application process: https://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/study/pg/apply/research/. In addition, they should submit a research outline of a maximum of 500 words directly to Professor Mark Harris (mh25@st-andrews.ac.uk) and Dr Bernhard Struck (bs50@st-andrews.ac.uk).



ITSH Mondays

Welcome to our ITSH Institute Mondays AY2018-19, 3-5pm, Venue: Old Seminar Room, St John’s House

Our main theme this academic year is “Space” and “Spatial History”. Texts will be pre-circulated for the sessions. Please email Konrad Lawson (kml8@st-andrews.ac.uk).

  • 12 November 2018, Manuscript Workshop, Bernhard Struck, Did Prussia have an Atlantic History? The Partitions of Poland-Lithuania, the French Colonisation of Guyana, and Climates in the Caribbean, c.1760s-1780s
  • 11 February 2019, Reading Group – Chalana, Manish (ed), Messy Urbanism: Understanding the “Other” Cities of Asia, Hong Kong University Press, 2017 (comments by Vahishtai D. Ghosh)
  • 18 February 2019, Reading Group – Stock, Paul (ed), The Uses of Space in Early Modern History, New York 2015 (comments by Jessica Rees)
  • 25 February 2019, Skills Workshop – Introduction to QGIS (open to all Staff and PGs) (Konrad Lawson)
  • 4 March 2019, Skills Workshop – Introduction to Regular Expressions (open to all Staff and PGs) (Konrad Lawson)

    Konrad Lawson, GIS workshop

  • 11 March 2019, Manuscript Workshop – Antonio Scalia, The reinvention of left-wing internationalism in Italy: transnational activists, cultural practices, political violence and gender (1960-1987)
  • 1 April 2019, Manuscript Workshop – Rosalind Parr, Citizens of Everywhere. Indian Nationalist Women and the Global Public Sphere, 1920s-1950s
  • 15 April 2019, MLitt Dissertation Prospectus Workshop
  • 29 April 2019, Manuscript Workshop – Riccardo Bavaj, Konrad Lawson, Bernhard Struck, Doing Spatial History (Introduction)


Connecting the Czech Lands & Latin America around 1900

Research Seminar

Short-term and circular mobility from the Czech Lands to Latin America (1880s-1930s). A Case study in Entangled History

Professor Markéta Křižová (Charles University Prague)

Hosted by  the Cross Cultural Circa Nineteenth Century Research Centre and the Institute for Transnational & Spatial History (ITSH), School of History

The paper will introduce the phenomenon of short-term transatlantic mobility, on the basis of sources as memoirs, letters and official reports, but also oral histories and family histories. The phenomenon of short-term labor migration offers fascinating insights into the mechanisms of communication in the broader Atlantic region in the period under investigation. The paper investigates cultural and economic interchange as well as the perceptions by the migrants themselves of their place in the world, their “home” and their identity.  The movement across the Atlantic certainly left profound marks upon the spiritual and material culture of both the sending as well as receiving countries. Through transmitting skills, experiences, and cultural knowledge, the migrants assisted in the creation of “transnationalism from below” on both sides of the ocean.

Research Seminar Thursday 25 April, 5pm

Venue: Arts Lecture Theatre, University of St Andrews

Summer School: Experts and Expertise in Motion

Call for Application

 Experts and Expertise in Motion

 7th GRAINES Summer School, Charles University, 12-15 June 2019

Ever since its establishment Transnational History, however loosely defined, has focused on connections, on flows of people, goods, ideas as well as processes, interconnections and exchange of information in its various forms, that stretch over political and territorial borders. This process-oriented perspective challenges the notion of both the nation and the state as a principal historical category. It questions the binary concept between “centers” and “peripheries” with its single-direction relation. Furthermore, European history has become deeply involved in Global History, and expert networks or scientific transfers are there an important topic too.

1927 Solvay Conference

Following this perspective, the GRAINES summer school 2019 will engage with the multiple and multi-directional entanglements within and beyond the European continent around “experts” and “expertise in motion”. Experts and expertise shape our modern world and societies, from technology to health care, to decision and policy-making around taxation, education, infrastructure or humanitarian action – to name just a few areas. Experts may work directly in or are associated with the state, yet they also operate beyond and below the state level. They may equally shift between the two, as intermediaries between civil society, science and research on the one hand, and the state on the other. Experts often work in specific institutional settings that produce and provide expertise (e.g. labs, universities, think tanks, academies, learned societies, international organisations). Yet beyond such settings experts form and forge various forms of exchange and cooperation that sets expertise and expert knowledge in motion.

The summer school invites contributions on themes including: the movement of persons, the translocation of objects as well as ideas, the problem of “authority” and “trust” in the establishment of knowledge networks, the forms and reshaping of transnational spheres of “expert” communication and collaboration. We invite contributions on modern European history with Europe understood as an open concept that includes connections within as well as beyond Europe.

The summer school is organised by the Faculty of Arts, Charles University, in cooperation with the Graduate Interdisciplinary Network for European Studies (GRAINES). The program includes reading and discussion groups, lectures and excursions, as well as room for the presentation and discussion of student projects. While the summer school will have a distinct interdisciplinary and trans-epochal character, potential participants should demonstrate historical awareness and general interest in history. We invite postgraduate students from a broad range of theoretical perspectives and disciplines to submit their project proposals to the organisers.

The working language of the summer school is English. It is open to PhD candidates as well as MA students. Accommodation costs will be covered, a limited number of travel bursaries may be available.

To apply, please send your project proposal of maximum 500 words and a one-page CV by 20 February 2019 to graines2019@ff.cuni.cz

Summer school organized by:

Faculty of Arts, Charles University in cooperation with the partners of the Graduate Interdisciplinary Network for European Studies (GRAINES)

For further information on the summer school and GRAINES see

http://grainesnetwork.com/ or https://graines2019.ff.cuni.cz/



ITSH Mondays – Reading Groups & Manuscript Workshops

Welcome to the autumn term 2018. This year we will aim to make Mondays afternoons the time for a series of afternoon activities and occasional brown-bag lunches with our MLitt students.  Everyone is very welcome to these activities whether you are affiliated with the institute or not. Our fall activities, which are designed to be informal and conversational opportunities to learn from each are set as follows:

  • Mon 15 Oct 1.15-3pm ITSH Reading Group – Old Seminar Room, South Street, Su Lin Lewis Cities in Motion: Urban Life and Cosmopolitanism in Southeast Asia, 1920-1940 (Konrad Lawson presenting)

  • Mon 12 Nov 1.15-3pm ITSH Manuscript Workshop – Old Seminar Room, South Street (Chapter submitted by Bernhard Struck)
  • Mon 19 Nov 1.15-3pm ITSH Reading Group – Old Seminar Room, South Street, A. K. Sandoval-Strausz and Nancy H. Kwak eds. Making Cities Global: The Transnational Turn in Urban History (Emma Hart presenting)
  • Mon 3 Dec 1.15-3pm ITSH Manuscript Workshop – Old Seminar Room, South Street (Chapter submitted by Calum Daly)

Reading Group – In this activity we ask one institute member to present to us about a book relevant to Transnational or Spatial History, summarizing it and offering comments on its contribution to our themes of interest. Optionally, a second person offers some comments from their perspective. Those who attend are not expected to have read the work, but they are most welcome to do so. We will also usually distribute some selection from the book for discussion. The discussion that follows need not be limited to the book but can range more broadly on the theme as relevant to our own interests and research.

Manuscript Workshop – An institute member submits a chapter or article draft for reading by attendees and after giving some comments at the beginning of the workshop setting the context for the work and any other preliminary comments, the workshop works through the text and offers comments and suggestions.

We are looking forward to seeing you there.

Statistical nodes and circulations around 1800

Research Seminar Paper 

Adam Dunn (University of St Andrews)

From words to numbers and maps. Transfers, networks and the transformations of statistical thinking in Britain and the German lands, c. 1750s-1840s

This talk will explore the changes, evolution and developments of statistical thinking from the eighteenth to the nineteenth century. It will argue that the form, function and theory of statistical thought changed from a descriptive, narrative, mode to a more mathematical, visual, mode. Taking Sir John Sinclair as its lead the talk will argue that the work of amateur statisticians, working beyond or on the margins of state mechanisms, played a crucial part in this development. It will argue that Sinclair not only made significant methodological and theoretical leaps forward, but also that he was aided in these developments and spreading his ideas by the vast transnational network he established through travel and correspondence.

Time & Venue: Monday, 5 February 2018, 5.15pm, Room 1.10 St Katharine’s Lodge, University of St Andrews 

Fife Coastal Walk 2017

2017 Masters Cohort near Elie

2017 Masters Cohort near Elie

In October, our masters students studying transnational and spatial history in our MLitt programme took a break from their research and seminars for a day long walk along the southern coast of Fife from Elie to Crail. A new tradition in formation, this was the second cohort of masters students to make the journey along with programme coordinator Konrad, which this year added new elements, including a picnic and student-supplied whisky in St Monans harbour, a stop for hot chocolate and historical discussion in the village of PIttenweem, and fish and chips in the final village Crail, which a recent blind taste test by postgraduate students give winning scores to, despite the greater fame of its rivals in Anstruther.

Whisky fortification for the last leg of the walk between Cellardyke and Crail. The Isle of May is in the background.

St Andrews is located on the northern side of Fife, but is a convenient bus ride from all the coastal villages further south that can all be reached by following the Fife Coastal Path. The stretch from Elie to Crail is especially stunning, and a walk beginning in Elie at 10:30am can end in Crail by dinner time, with plenty of time for breaks in the villages along the way. Walks like these are perfect ways for postgraduate students to get to know each other better and explore what Fife has to offer.

Dropbox, Dinner, and Debate: Or, How to Produce an Edited Volume

Prof. Despina Stratigakos

Following on from the successful and highly-engaging exploratory workshop held in September 2016, this August saw the second meeting towards the production of a new ‘Routledge Guide to Using Historical Sources’ aiming to offer an accessible introduction to the sources and methodologies of spatial history. This report will explore the different ways in which this proactive workshop helped to bring the volume closer to becoming a reality.

Dinner, the evening before work truly began, partly offered a social welcome to participants, some who had merely walked across town from the School of History in St Katharine’s Lodge, but several of whom had travelled to St Andrews via Edinburgh Airport from locations as far afield as Buffalo, USA. However, conversation turned almost immediately to the volume. Draft chapters had been circulated in advance via Dropbox, and many a greeting could be heard along the lines of “ah, so you’re so-and-so, I very much enjoyed your paper on such-and-such, and it made me think of…” This cross-dinner table discussion typified the collaborative, conversational tone of the following two days.

The initial workshop last September focussed on the sharing of preliminary ideas between a relatively small group of spatial scholars. The workshop this August saw not only the addition of new potential contributors to the volume – of whom more shortly – but also the welcome input of several external commentators. These scholars, all experts in their field, not only provided feedback on individual papers, but also offered their own perspectives on what space is, and what a historical introduction to spatial history as a subject should try to do.

Prof. Susanne Rau

SUSANNE RAU (Universität Erfurt), having quite literally written the book on space (Räume: Konzepte, Wahrehmungen, Nutzungen, 2013), helped to ground the conference in just these challenging questions. Whilst she challenged whether it is possible – or even useful – to attempt to define space, she emphasised that historians have the potential to ‘add value’ to discussions of the past through a consideration of how space is ‘produced’ (a process which can also be destructive), how our social relations are transformed and institutionalised through space, and the ways in which we can analyse the power relations behind the claims made to spaces through documents such as maps.

CHRISTOPH NÜBEL (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin) picked up this latter theme, pointing out that several papers shared the common theme of the appropriation of space, whether through economic activities or even in the construction of historical narratives. DIARMID FINNEGAN (Queen’s University Belfast) provided an interdisciplinary insight, suggesting that the fields of geography and spatial history have more in common than might be assumed at first glance in terms of the problems posed and the answers provided. He acknowledged, however, the value of ‘spatial history’ as a designator which brings together the figures of both space and time as categories for analysis.

As noted above, the number of participants grew significantly between the September and the August workshops. DESPINA STRATIGAKOS (University of Buffalo) provided a fascinating exploration of Hitler’s domestic spaces, utilising the floorplans (both ‘real’ and unrealised) for the Berghof, the dictator’s home in the Bavarian Alps. She brought the eyes of an architectural historian to bear on the question of how Hitler constructed and displayed this home space in the service of developing his image as a refined, educated world-leader.

Prof. Benjamin Schenk

Moving from the small scale of the floorplan to the national or even transnational scale of railway networks, FRITHJOF BENJAMIN SCHENK (Universität Basel) offered a consideration of – and indeed a proposed revision to – the history of infrastructure. He emphasised that traditional narratives suggest that, by enabling people to cross vast distances in relatively little time, developments such as trains served to integrate large territories such as Tsarist Russia. Schenck suggested that, by contrast, trains stratified society further, for example in physically separating socio-economic classes into different carriages, and by enabling greater population movement and correspondingly less national stability.

ANTONIS HADJIKYRIACOU (Boğaziçi University) explored both the promise and the pitfalls in utilising GIS to visualise historic economic data, focusing on the example of the 1572 fiscal survey of Cyprus. In common with TIM COLE (University of Bristol), who had attended the September workshop, and his new co-author ALBERTO GIORDANO (Texas State University), Hadjikyriacou emphasised the need to carefully interpret and curate data before inputting it into GIS, and the nature of visualisations as important analytical tools for the historian to build their work upon, rather than as straightforward ‘illustrations’ of results.

STÉPHANE VAN DAMME (European University Institute) and KATE FERRIS both brought questions of space to distinctive historical sub-disciplines: the urban history of science and the history of everyday spaces, respectively. Van Damme set out a historiographical narrative of the impact of the spatial turn upon the history of science and the metropolis, before considering the roles of ‘space’ and ‘place’ within the Scientific Revolution. Ferris took the discussion from telescopes to pint glasses with a case-study of bars in Fascist Italy, highlighting the ways in which they served as complex political spaces in which individuals might both express divergent views, and also suffer the regulation or observation of the regime.

The final new contribution, from ADAM CATHCART (University of Leeds), discussed the similarly ambivalent space of borderlands, with a focus on the Sino-Korean borderlands from 1931-1954. Cathcart emphasised the disjuncture between the reality of borders as sites which limit movement, and the focus – in both scholarship and popular fantasy – on movement across them.

In terms of attendees of the original workshop, BERNHARD STRUCK offered a more detailed analysis of German maps as ‘spatial text’, whilst JAMES KORANYI (Durham University) re-analysed travel guides as constructing mental, national space, and JORDAN GIRARDIN reminded us – in absentia, and via an excellent Youtube video – that travel accounts should be read ‘from a to z’, with attention to the traveller as an ever-moving space. MICHAEL TALBOT (University of Greenwich) returned to the ‘big blue wet’ problem of maritoriality, MARK HARRIS took the workshop back down the Amazon, and DAWN HOLLIS once more forced the spatial theorist Henri Lefebvre up a mountain. Finally, SARAH EASTERBY-SMITH and MATT YLITALO brought Michel Foucault’s concept of ‘heterotopia’ to bear on nineteenth-century whaling vessels as particularly complex and fluid spaces. (For more details on the initial ideas underlying all of these contributions, please see the previous workshop report).

Of course, from the perspective of participants at the two-day workshop, much of the above ‘discussion’ occurred between the pages of pre-circulated papers, with the bulk of the time together given over to in-depth discussion both of individual papers and of the volume as a whole. One participant lauded the ‘extraordinary process’ which this enabled, with the group returning again and again to questions of volume structure and how each chapter might meet the needs of our intended student reader until a general consensus was reached.

A particularly important discussion centred upon the question of inviting further contributions to the volume, with the communal wish-list for further areas of spatial history that could be covered reaching lengths that would exceed the page count of two or three volumes, let alone one. Several participants advocated passionately for a chapter focussing particularly on space and gender, whilst others argued that questions of gender and diversity more generally ought to be represented in as many papers as possible. The editors ultimately decided to follow both courses of action, and went away with a list of suggested authors to add further thematic range to an already broad volume.

The phrase ‘the editors decided’ is not, however, the note to end this report on, for what should really be emphasised about the workshop was its interactive, collaborative nature, with editors and contributors alike working to bring the intended volume another few steps closer to fruition. Pre-circulated papers, open discussion and debate, and above all a good meal all served to make the workshop an invigorating process for all involved and, most importantly, an effective stage in the long journey of producing an edited volume.