Chasing statistical nodes – Welcome Adam Dunn

We would like to warmly welcome Adam Dunn as a new (and partly old) PhD student at the ITSH. Adam took his undergraduate degree at the University of York in History, graduating in 2011 before he started his masters in early modern history at the University of St Andrews. After finishing his MLitt at St Andrews he took two gap years where he worked in various places including a law firm and the IT department of a paper mill.

In September 2015, Adam returned to St Andrews starting a research project under the working title “From words to numbers and maps. Transfers, networks and the transformations of statistical thinking in Britain, France and the German lands, c. 1780s-1840s”.

Immigration Statistics US 1841-1860 (Wikipedia Commons)

Immigration Statistics US 1841-1860 (Wikipedia Commons)

Here is Adam: “I returned to St Andrews to peruse my PhD with Dr. Bernhard Struck at the ITSH. I returned for a number of reasons, not least the fantastic academic atmosphere in St Andrews, but also because of the burgeoning new Institute for Transnational & Spatial History. I am currently half way through my first term as a PhD and am auditing an MLitt module on core skills for transnational history, including historical mapping and database creation.” – A steep and hopefully fruitful learning curve.

Statistics are a fascinating topic, primarily studied and researched within the units that gave birth to modern statistics: the (nation) state. The project seeks to trace actors and networks spun by amateur statisticians – via travel, correspondence, journals – during the decades around 1800.  There is more on the project under PhDs.

Welcome Adam – enjoy reading your statistics!

Mapping and Visualising Transnational (Hi)Stories

Where is transnational history? What spaces are produced by transnational flows and cross-border connections? Can computer tools and Digital Humanities help us to achieve an Atlas of Transnational History? How to we implement digital tools into our curriculum as well as doing and practicing transnational history?

Tobias Englmeier introducing Three.js Layer

Tobias Englmeier introducing Three.js Layer

These were some of the questions discussed during our Mapping and Visualising Transnational (Hi)Stories workshop, held at St Andrews 8-10 June 2014 in collaboration with the GRAINES network. The material, further questions, maps, tools and key readings can be accessed through transnationalhistory.net/mvth and on twitter via #mvth.

Trying not to fall behind the tech elements

Trying not to fall behind the tech elements

At the Centre for Transnational History we will keep discussing the topic over the coming months. Jordan Girardin will be hosting a workshop on Mapping Flows and Visualising Data, 28 August 2014 and with a panel at the ENIUGH 2014 conference in Paris.

Uta Hinrichs on the Trading Consequences project

Uta Hinrichs on the Trading Consequences project

Spatial history along with technologies and tools to map and visualise will also be a central part of our new MLitt programme on Transnational, Global and Spatial History that we will start teaching in 2015-16. Further information on the programme will be published shortly.

 

Away Days in the Highlands

The location was carefully selected: Morenish House, near Killin right on the northern shore of Loch Tay. A nineteenth-century laird’s house, very Scottish and surrounded by snow-covered Highland peaks and stunning views. This was the chosen location for the joint Centre for Transnational History, GRAINES  and Heirs to the Throne AHRC project away days between 22 to 24 January 2014 discussing themes in global and transnational history as well as planning activities ahead for 2014 and 2015.

Loch Tay seen from Morenish House

Loch Tay seen from Morenish House

The away days brought together 23 historians from the UK and the continent. The trip was joined by MLitt Student from MO5710 Crossing Borders, members from both the Centre for Transnational History and the GRAINES steering committee as well as a number of PhD students from St Andrews, Vienna, Basel and Cologne as part of GRAINES.

Morenish House provided not only a beautiful location but also a very inspiring environment including cosy fire places that allowed for in-depth discussion of topics, themes and texts related to transnational and global history. The reading groups focused on themes including the global circulation of goods and commodities based on texts by Kapil Raj or Maxim Berg, time in a global context by Vanessa Ogle or the question of decentred history by Natalie Zemon Davis.

Reading groups at Morenish House

Reading groups at Morenish House

Dr Struck did not only take the lead in one of the reading groups, but  introduced the guests to the art of whisky making and tasting – with elegant twists back to the question of global whisky trade or the problem of scale in transnational history between the local and global. This was followed by a visit to the Aberfeldy whisky distillery the following day and a hike in the hills near Kenmore with stunning views over Loch Tay and the snow-covered peaks towards Ben Nevis.

The GRAINES Haggis Feast

The GRAINES Haggis Feast

Apart from the lively and broad text discussions, the Away Days provided the opportunity to discuss the upcoming GRAINES summer school in Vienna on urban history and further activities to foster the GRAINES network. The call for papers for the Summer School on Urban History in Vienna (10-14 June 2014) will be released shortly.

Between Habsburg and St Andrews

One of the key ideas behind GRAINES (Graduate Interdisciplinary Network in European Studies) is that it allows us to put European and transnational history into practice with a flexible and informal way of exchanges of both staff and students between the partner institutions. Martin Schaller one of the current PhD students based at St Andrews will be spending part of his project time in Vienna. While focussing mainly on the perception of the Habsburg Empire from outsiders’ perspectives, the view from ‘within’ as well as working with specialists in the region will certainly be beneficial for the development of the project.

We are grateful that Markian Prokopovych and Philipp Ther have agreed to informally supervise Martin during his time in Vienna. In order to facilitate exchanges between the partner institutions and to support our students financially, ERASMUS agreements between St Andrews and Vienna, as well as between St Andrews and Basel will be set up soon.

Mapping Transnational (Hi)Stories

Mapping and Visualising Transnational Flows and Connections

A number of our individual research projects share an interest in space and spatial history. Defining transnational history as a way of seeing and a perspective that is interested in people, in nodes and honeycombs (P. Clavin) as well as the flows and connections across borders, raises pressing questions: Where is transnational history? Does transnational history need to rethink spatial issues? What kind of maps and visualisation could be integrated in transnational history – both as a way of analysis as well as narrative and story telling?

It is interesting to see that, over the past ten to fifteen years, an interest in spatial history (spatial turn) as well as in transnational (and global) history has developed almost simultaneously. If we accept that space (Raum / espace) is not simply absolute, a fact or a reality, but a product of social interaction and thus made, this would feed back into the questions raised above.

At the same time, new and previously unprecedented technologies of communication and mapping have become available. By asking: Where is transnational history? How to bring space back in? we seek to address these questions in a loose series of reading group sessions (held at the Centre for Transnational History), small-scale workshops (at St Andrews, in collaboration with GRAINES and beyond) and presentations/panels at a number of conferences.

What we seek to explore across projects ranging from travel activities to the Habsburg Empire (Martin Schaller), global cities (Emma Hart), alpine regions (Dawn Hollis, Jordan Girardin), scientific networks around 1800 (Sarah Easterby-Smith), spatial issues related to national socialism (Riccardo Bavaj) or transnational biographies (Bernhard Struck) are ways to tell these stories through technologies of mapping and visualisation.

Further information will be made available shortly via: Mapping Transnational (Hi)Stories 

The first meeting for the workshop / reading group on space will meet Wednesday 16 October 2013, 5.30pm. The venue is room 0.02, School of History, St Katharine’s Lodge, The Scores, St Andrews.

 

 

Bringing Space into Transnational History

Reading Group

Over the coming academic year (2013-14) a number of members of staff and PhD researcher will be meeting for a series of reading group sessions on the theme of space in transnational history. Transnational history has been broadly defined as being interested in connections across borders as well as in flows of goods, people, ideas across, through and above nations. As a perspective or way of seeing transnational history has been characterised as being primarily concerned with people as actors that create webs of connections as well as circulations, honeycombs and nodes of interaction across borders.

Such a definition raises questions of space and scale that we seek to discuss in a series of reading sessions and ultimately in a form of a workshop. What a number of colleagues are interested in is the question of how to spatialise and, consequently, how to map and visualise transnational histories and the flows and connections it is interested in. With these challenges and problems on space and scale in mind, what we seek to discuss in the coming year(s) is the combination and interrelation of transnational and global history on the one hand with the simultaneous (re)emergence of space and spatial issues since the early 1990s on the other.

While individual members of the reading groups work on rather diverse topics (travel, science, cities), we seek to explore ways of visualising and mapping flows and connections by collaborating with disciplines including geography and computer science.

Dates for meetings and readings will be posted shortly under Readings. For further questions or signalling interest in participating in any of the meetings, please feel free to contact Bernhard Struck (bs50@st-andrews.ac.uk).