Japan and World History

The School of History and the ITSH are proud to host Professor Carol Gluck (Columbia University) as part of our Modern History Research Seminar Series. Professor Gluck will be speaking on “Modernity in Common. Japan and World History”. 

This lecture is based on the dual assumption that just as one cannot tell the modern history of any society in isolation from the world, the history of the modern world can in fact be grasped from the vantage point of any place on the globe. In this instance, the place is Japan. One of a “globeful of modernities” Japan shares commonalities and connections with other modern societies. At the same time it offers the opportunity to develop ideas about the “modern” based on empirical evidence different from the European experiences that underlay earlier theories of modernity. Here I examine four questions frequently asked about modern Japanese history, from the nineteenth century until the present, in order to see how they appear when viewed in a global context — in the context of “modernity in common.”

Monday, 20 February 2017, 5pm, Venue: School II (St Salvator Quad)

The event is co-organised with the Japan Society, St Andrews. Following Professor Gluck’s talk, there will be a reception in room 54 (St Salvator, Quad).

5th GRAINES summer school: Sharpen your digital edge & tools

GRAINES Summer School: History and its sources – after the Digital Turn

Call for Applications

The Graduate Interdisciplinary Network for European Studies (GRAINES) is now inviting applications for its upcoming 5th GRAINES Summer School “History and its sources – after the digital turn”. The event will be of particular interest to PhD students who are looking to explore the implications of digital history – qualitative and quantitative – for their own projects.

GRAINES summer school, St Andrews 2015

GRAINES summer school, St Andrews 2015

The programme will provide opportunities to present and discuss research projects which involve source criticism after the digital turn, i.e. digital approaches to collecting sources and the application of digital technology to analyse these. Further topics of discussion will include qualitative or critical approaches examining the relationship between quantification and the digital turn, such as the history of statistics.

There will be four main thematic sessions addressing various fields of digital history, including databases as a tool for collecting and analysing sources; computational text analysis; geographical information systems (GIS); and approaches to quantitative and statistical history. Participants will have the opportunity to discuss the relevance of digital approaches for their own research, and propose topics for discussion groups.

The GRAINES Summer School particularly invites projects in the fields of European History and Global History from the Middle Ages to the present.

When & Where

Tuesday 5 September (6pm) – Friday 8 September (2pm)

Department of History, University of Basel

Applications

The participation fee of € 200 also covers board and accommodation. Please note applications should be submitted by 31 March 2017 via bgsh.geschichte.unibas.ch/registration. In justified cases, applicants can apply to be exempted from the participation fee. The number of participants is limited.

Information

Organised by the Basel Graduate School of History and the GRAINES network. For questions, please contact Dr Roberto Sala, co-ordinator of the Basel Graduate School of History: roberto.sala@unibas.ch

 

Global History Lecture – Welcome Emma Hunter

Dr Emma Hunter (Edinburgh) will be giving a research seminar paper on “Concepts of Democracy in Mid-Twentieth-Century Africa: Re-Imagining Political Accountability from the Bottom Up”. Emma Hunter

Emma Hunter is a lecturer in Global History at Edinburgh University. Her research focus is on African history in relation to political, intellectual and cultural history as well as the history of African print cultures. Her monograph “Political Thought and the Public Sphere in Tanzania: Freedom, Democracy and Citizenship in the Era of Decolonisation” was published with CUP in 2015. Congratulations, Emma!

Time & Venue: Monday 19 October 2015, New Seminar Room, School of History, University of St Andrews, 5.15pm.

More on the Modern History Research Seminar series – please see under Modern History Seminar .

In Practice: Bernhard Struck

What is transnational history (to me)? The Q Factor OR Transnational History as a Hearing Aid

The following post is part of a series of postings in which our institute members ask themselves “What does transnational and global history mean for me and my research?”. Read the take by Kelsey Jackson Williams, a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow based at St Andrews. The new post is by Bernhard Struck, currently co-director of the Institute for Transnational & Spatial History. 

Another semester has just come to a close. That makes four years of teaching and co-teaching transnational and global history on our two modules that feed into our general Modern History MLitt / Masters programme at St Andrews: Crossing Borders and Global Histories. End of semester is always a good to moment to step back (breathe, think what have we done and taught, how and why) and start thinking ahead. Next term will see the launch of a new undergraduate module Doing and Practicing Transnational History.

Next academic year, 2015-16, the Institute for Transnational & Spatial History will be launching its new Masters programme (MLitt) in Transnational and Spatial History – an exciting step for us as a team. So, time to breathe. Time to look back and ahead. And as we are at the end of term, my personal spin on the question “What is transnational history? (for me)” goes through the lens of teaching. In a nutshell: teaching – that comes with doing and practicing – transnational history for me is:

  • starting with & from curiosity
  • having exciting and unexpected conversations with a great mix of different people from various corners (and borders) of the world
  • seeing things differently and from different angles and perspectives
  • being pushed outside the comfort zone (including mine)
  • (re)mixing expertise & ignorance
  • being a better listener
  • give & take
  • finding flow & inspiration
  • thinking outside the box

These aspects and certainly others do not come in a particular order, though I have tried to put them in a order as I see them fit and interact. They correlate and reinforce one another. They may be more circular rather than linear or listed and ranked. But the circle has to start somewhere and, to me, transnational history starts with working with great, open-minded people in the first place. In 2011 we started teaching “Crossing Borders. European History in Transnational Perspectives”. Last year, in 2013, we added “Global Histories, Globalisation and its Histories”. Over the years we have taught groups of students that were small in size (which is part of the fun and quality, normally 4-6), but global in scale.

Discussing Spatial History and C. Withers "Placing the Enlightenment", Nov 2014

Discussing Spatial History and C. Withers “Placing the Enlightenment”, Nov 2014

In our little teaching and research village (that is St Andrews) on the east coast of Scotland we had students from the UK (perhaps obvious – but a minority), from the US, Canada, Switzerland, Germany, Poland, France, Austria, Greece doing and practicing transnational history. And I am sure this is incomplete.

In return the modules have been taught by a Scot working on France and colonial Algeria (Stephen Tyre), by a (well) Scott-Kiwi or Kiwi-Scott working on interwar Europe (Conan Fischer), a Brit working on the transfer of seeds and botanist networks (Sarah Easterly-Smith), a Norwegian-Scot-US breed with the (embarrassing – for me as I only know some European) capacity of speaking three Asian languages (and Norwegian, Spanish, English) (that is Konrad Lawson), a German with an interest in border regions and travel (myself), a Pole or should we say a “truly-speaking” Central-European who masters God knows how many languages and works on even more languages (Tomek Kamusella) and a colleague with an Indian and Empire background working on French imperial histories (Akhila Yechury).

With normally two of us in the room we try to teach and discuss aspects such as “comparative and transnational history”, “transnational and global history”, “the question of scales in global history”, “networks and ANTs” (Actor-Network-Theory), “border regions”, “transfers and circulation of knowledge”, the role of “global cities” or the relevance of space in transnational & global history. (Take a look: Handbook Global History 2014)

Back to the students: the national labels used above as shorthand are somewhat misleading. We have had social anthropologists joining in from the Californian-Mexican borderlands. We have had students from, historically speaking, places from the former Habsburg lands that cannot be easily labelled under one national banner. We have had takers from the Bavarian-Austrian border or the French Jura with a view of the Swiss Alps.

What do these people (students and tutors alike), put into a single room once a week, share? What do we have in common? Not much apparently. In particular not if one starts with the national label. The national label and background apart, however, this constantly varying group that comes from different institutions (yes, they matter and we discuss that in the modules as part of the role of institutions, places of science and the circulation of knowledge) shares a lot, despite or rather because of different (national) traditions of doing history.

What these groups share leads back to my list above: taking curiosity as a starting point (not the safe or assumed safer ground of starting from the nation as spatial entity), mixing different expertise, pushing one’s comfort zones – all these contribute to the joy of teaching in such an environment (transnational in itself). These are elements that, to me, tease out the extra edge in teaching history, often simply by bringing in an otherwise unexpected perspective, and feed back into my own research. I would not like to compare teaching transnational & global history to other ways of teaching and practicing histories. There are too many exiting ways of doing it. However, what I have enjoyed over the years teaching these modules and the type of student is that they come with a certain openness and curiosity to step onto new grounds and unexplored territory.

Morenish House, Loch Tay - Transnational Away Weekend, January 2014

Morenish House, Loch Tay – Transnational Away Weekend, January 2014

Students come prepared for methodological discussions and are receptive to the open (and puzzling) questions: Where is transnational history (when history is not set in a – national – container)? How to enter global history – from the global (daunting) or the local? They come prepared to run the extra mile – learning another language. (If I did not miscount: there were six different native languages around the table at the last reading and hiking away weekend.)

This leads to a level of openness, receptiveness and alertness. It brings together different and unexpected fields of expertise. It makes people talk to one another across time and space that otherwise may not sit around the same table. It opens up confessing ignorance. It is easy to listen to an expert in field X. But experts are not always the best listeners – or explainers, for that matter. The transnational mix in class makes for better explainers and speakers. If you do not share too much of the same common ground, expertise, historiographical background, you have to explain more carefully and nuanced. You share more, but take more. This is where the unashamedly selfish researcher inside me comes in: I take a lot of ideas away from our classes as I learn so much from students and colleagues. (Do not worry, I like experts and expertise. Achtung! If you click on this, be aware of unashamed self-advertising and something on experts.)

Perhaps in a nutshell: Doing and teaching transnational & global history feels a bit like the famous Q factor that helps explaining the success of Broadway musicals. The mix makes the music. And I find myself often being a better listener to the transnational or global music in class, when I am ignorant of something others can teach me. To sum up: transnational history for me is a hearing aid. Happy to put it back in next term and start from scratch – and curiosity.

New Strand on Transnational and Global History

This year’s annual conference of the Social History Society, held at Newcastle University 8-10 April 2014, opened with a number of new strands, one of which in Transnational and Global History. The new strand was launched with a panel on “Perceiving and Conceptualising Space“. The panel included three of our current PhD students Dawn Jackson Williams, Jordan Girardin and Jason Varner.

The connecting theme and analytical perspective through the three papers on early European encounters with the new world (Jason Varner), the perception of landscape and mountains in the early modern period (Dawn Jackson Williams) and the making of the Alps as a transnational space (Jordan Girardin) was taken from Henri Lefebvre’s The Production of Space.

In particular Lefebvre’s conceptions of space and spatial practices including espace vécu (lived space) as well as representations of space have and will continue to be a theme around various activities at the Centre including reading groups and workshops on mapping and visualisation of transnational spaces.

 

Call for Papers: Mapping Flows & Visualising Data in the Era of Digital Humanities

Along with CAPOD and the School of History, the Centre is supporting and hosting a PhD-led workshop on Digital Humanities, taking place on Friday 29 August 2014 in St Andrews.

“Mapping Flows & Digital Visualising Data” will continue the discussions initiated by the event held in June, but will also introduce the new Digital Humanities agenda of St Andrews for 2014-2015. It will articulate academic presentations of DH projects and technical tutorials of how to acquires the necessary technological skills.

Applications are welcome until 19 May 2014 for Humanities projects that could or already do benefit from digital technology. We are also looking for people specialised in computer science, programming, mapping who would be willing to present some aspects of Digital Humanities through short workshops.

Click here to access the Call for Papers

Call for Papers: GRAINES Summer School 2014, Vienna

As part of the GRAINES Network, members of the Centre for Transnational History will be actively involved in its second summer school. After last year in Menton on “From the Margins”, this year’s summer school will take place in Vienna from 10th to 14th June 2014. The theme will be “The European City in Transformation: from the Early Modern Period to the Present”.

Applications are open until 15 March 2014.

More information and download Call for Papers

For 2015, we are looking towards hosting a joint GRAINES and FUTH (Flying University of Transnational Humanities) at St Andrews. For the 2014 Call for Papers for the FUTH on “Globalization East”, please see below.

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.

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).