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.