Reading Group First Meeting

Last week the first session of our Where is Transnational History? reading group was held. Exploring the variety of historical approaches that attempt to conceptualise space, especially in a transnational context, our reading also introduced us to the world of network visualisation with an essay by Lothar Krempel, and the exciting work being done at the Spatial History Project at Stanford University through an article by Richard White.

Our discussion focused on understanding the different ways space is defined, and employed in historical scholarship, ranging from the analysis of historical maps, the study of evolving trade and flows of all kind, the deconstruction of spatial categories and representations throughout history, and the symbolic importance of representational space. As we shared our own interests in the study of spatial history it quickly became clear that our varying topics and questions call for differing tools and forms of analysis, whether they depend primarily on close readings and interpretation or have a greater need for historical data and geographic analysis. Our reading will continue and we also agreed to plan for a more skills-based session on map-making and basic GIS for interested members in a future meeting.

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).