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 or can be downloaded here ITSH Events Fall 2019

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 

Seminar: Legal Flows – Crimes against Humanity

On Monday 25 September 2017, we will be welcoming Dr Kerstin von Lingen (Heidelberg). Kerstin von Lingen will be giving a paper entitled “Legal Flows: Crimes against Humanity in Transnational Legal Thought, 1899-1945”.

War Crimes Commission August 1945

The paper addresses the normative framework of the concept of ‘Crimes against Humanity’ from an intellectual history perspective, by scrutinizing legal debates of marginalized (and exiled) academic-juridical actors within the United Nations War Crimes Commission (UNWCC). Decisive for the successful implementation were two factors: the growing scale of mass violence against civilians during the Second World War, as well as the support by ‘peripheral actors’, jurists forced into exile at London by the war. The latter group united smaller Allied countries from around the world, who used the commission’s work to push for a codification of international law, which finally materialized during the London Conference of August 1945. To study the process of mediation and emergence of legal concepts, I propose to speak of ‘legal flows’, to highlight the different strands and older traditions of humanitarian law involved in coining new law. The global experience of exile thereby has a significant constitutive function.

Dr Kerstin von Lingen is a Research Fellow at the Heidelberg Cluster of Excellence “Asia and Europe in a Global Context”. She is the Principal Investigator of the Research Group “Transcultural Justice. Legal Flows and the Emergence of International Justice within the East Asian War Crimes Trials, 1946-1954”.

Time & Venue: 5.15pm, Room 1.10 – School of History, St Katharine’s Lodge, St Andrews

 

Space and Place in the work of Yi-Fu Tuan

This posting is the first of three offering a reading of the work of the geographer Yi-Fu Tuan from a historian’s perspective. I hope to follow it with a series of similar postings on other scholars that may offer us productive ways to think about spatial history, or in other cases, avoid some of the pitfalls along the way. Historians who are interested in issues related to space are presented with a bounty of potential inspiration when it comes to theoretical work, much of which will draw them to reading works outside their own discipline. Philosophers and other thinkers who fit uncomfortably into any single disciplinary category are found in great number, while perhaps the most intuitively natural disciplinary home for thinking about space, geography doesn’t have much claim to a monopoly or dominance. If we take one volume that explores some of the most influential thinkers, Thinking Space (2000), for example, we find that both the editors, Mike Crang and Nigel Thrift, and a majority of the work’s authors are themselves geographers or find their institutional home among them, but not a single one of the sixteen thinkers considered by its chapters are. The Sage collection of 66 essays introducing Key Thinkers on Space and Place delivers a slight majority of its pieces on geographers, but also reveals the impressive interdisciplinary range of scholars who have made important contributions to thinking about space.

In the case of Thinking Space, which brings Walter Benjamin, Deleuze, Frantz Fanon, Bruno Latour and others under one roof, we see a good example of the important role of active communities of later scholars reading, reinterpreting and drawing out the spatial implications of this or that thinker and exploring the potential of applying these ideas in their work in circumstances where the original set of thinkers were not necessarily in conversation with each other about these ideas either directly or in their own work. By contrast, when it comes to reflecting on space, place, and the many problems that go along with it, histories of geography as a discipline by Richard Peet and David Livingstone or in more recently published companions aimed at students suggest that the more confined disciplinary space among geographers has yielded particularly dense set of patterns, trends, widely recognised interventions and, most of all, mutual encounters among thinkers. This shows how disciplinary space can as much enable intense and fruitful interaction even as the boundaries between them inhibit them.1

Below I want to introduce Tuan and what draws me to his work. I will devote a second posting on Tuan to consider him more critically, focusing on two features that I suspect many historians would find troubling: the relative little attention to change on the one hand, and to either human agency or social structures in bringing about the spatial practices that he describes. Finally, in a third posting, I want to say a bit more about the style of argument that Tuan uses, his consistently concrete, empirical, and engaging writing style, and then revisit some of the features of his approach that I think continue to make him interesting to read today.

Yi-Fu Tuan is an emeritus professor at the University of Wisconsin and often described as a key proponent of what he called a “humanistic geography.” When Tuan sets out the answer exactly what that means in the widely cited article he wrote under that title, he calls for them to turn their gaze away from what he sees as the “dogmatic” scientific approaches in which a “former liberator becomes censor.” It is not a rejection of such approaches, but more a lament that these approaches “circumscribe the appropriate language of discourse concerning man.”2 Instead, a humanistic geographer is to pay closer attention to geographic phenomena and human awareness, to take the risk and “perceive intention” where others see only objective forces, to take more seriously emotions of attachment to place, and to celebrate the power of human initiative to “break out of habitual modes” and clarify concepts and symbols related to space.3

In this manifesto for a field of geography Tuan speaks confidently of it in terms that suggest it already exists, and in a sense it was beginning to. Edward Relph’s similarly inspired Place and Placelessness comes out the same year with a complex framework and analysis of the “modes of spacial experience” while Anne Buttimer’s work would count among the humanistic geographers of the decade. Like Relph, Tuan describes the practice of humanistic geography in phenomenological terms but conflates this as the fruitful gamble of the humanist approach in general, “The humanist runs the risk of paying excessive attention to beginnings,” a phrase which could have been easily found in the opening pages of Bachelard’s The Poetics of Space, where he describes his phenomenological approach to space as, “a consideration of the onset of the image in an individual consciousness” or later phenomenology of space an approach which “liquidates the past and confronts what is new.”4 This was not the first time Tuan had written like this: in an also widely cited 1971 article on geography, phenomenology, and human nature, Husserl, Merleau-Ponty, and indeed Bachelard’s Poetics of Space itself all make their appearance but without any engagement with any of their ideas in detail.5 In this earlier article we find his goal stated in its boldest and perhaps most problematic early version: Tuan believes that a phenomenological approach will allow the identification of human essences, and allow for a “geography as the mirror for man” or which “reveals man” (by now you will have spotted the gendered nature of these identifications). Whereas Bachelard offers corners, miniature, and shells, for example, Tuan in this article suggests exploring the spatial secrets of “back” and “front,” of “home” and “journey” (in Space and Place one can find way stations between these two as critical) among others, and suggests that only by looking at humanity’s basic responses to the world through spatial concepts such as this will a geographer capture things which statistic approaches fail to deliver, as when, for example, one attempts to use statistics on visits to nature parks as a measure for human interest in nature.

These two articles are perhaps the most cited of his works, but were closer to proclamations than demonstrations. For the latter you could turn to his now long list of books including Topophilia: a Study of Environmental Perception, Attitudes, and Values (1974) and the work that I will focus most on in these postings, Space and Place: The Perspective of Experience (1977). In this work he gives a clear set of definitions for his two main concepts and then, in a thematic approach explores the awareness and response to them in major realms of human experience. In the introduction to a 2001 edited volume dedicated to Tuan on humanistic geography Textures of Place the excitement and “groundswell” that was produced by Yi-Fu Tuan’s scholarship inspired what would come to be recognized as “Tuanian” work. This movement is described in glowing terms even as the book goes on to describe the many limitations of its framing in its early days. On the other hand, the roughly identifiable cluster of humanistic geographies appear to have largely ceased to go by that term by the 1980s, it argues, and the rise of cultural geography, contextualist approaches, and “critical humanist geographies” took its place.6

So what drew me to Tuan’s work if, in some sense, the peak of its particular approach came in the unique moment of disciplinary transformation within geography of the 1970s and was then absorbed and developed in new decorations in the decade that followed? A few of the things I found most impressive were: 1) the inspiring breadth – pick up a work by Yi-Fu Tuan and flip through it, not even skimming full sentences, and you will be immediately struck by the sheer cosmic scale of his approach. He shifts smoothly from quoting Kant on the heavens to the spatial practices of Eskimo on the hunt or describing the ventilated homes of termites – all in a way that never looses the plot. We’ll come back to the dangers of this kind of approach, but the experience for the reader is breathtaking and sets the mind on fire with ideas. 2) the range of sources – a related point are the sources he draws this from. A good majority comes from anthropology, but psychology, architecture, literature, philosophy, and the hard sciences are all taken up and woven together in an impressive way and brings me to 3) the readability – many of the ideas that Tuan is interested in are abstract, such as the experience of time, the ability to perceive and analyse space and the relation of this to culture, but Tuan’s works are extremely readable, not only accessible to a general reader, but it is, I would argue, possible to pick up Tuan at any point in his Space and Place and almost immediately be pulled in. While I very often found myself protesting at the conclusions Tuan is drawn to, I think there is considerable value in the way that the highly concrete examples Tuan uses continually provokes the reader to engage in reflection. Even if that reflection results in protest, it often inspires new ideas for a researcher. Enough for now, but in the next posting I’ll consider Space and Place in more detail and turn to some of its problematic aspects.


  1. Richard Peet’s Modern Geographical Thought (1998), David Livingstone The Geographical Tradition (1992), and examples of companions include Blackwell’s A Companion to Cultural Geography ed. by James S Duncan, Nuala C. Johnson and Richard H. Schein (2008) and Approaches to Human Geography edited by Stuart C. Aitken and Gill Valentine (2015)
  2. Tuan, Yi-Fu. “Humanistic Geography.” Annals of the Association of American Geographers 66, no. 2 (1976): 266.
  3. Ibid., 267, 273
  4. Gaston Bachelard The Poetics of Space Beacon (1994), xix, xxxii.
  5. Tuan, Yi-Fu. “Geography, Phenomenology, And The Study Of Human Nature.” The Canadian Geographer / Le Géographe Canadien 15, no. 3 (September 1, 1971): 181–92.
  6. Adams, Paul. Textures Of Place: Exploring Humanist Geographies. Minneapolis: Univ Of Minnesota Press, 2001, xiv, xvi.

A Museum, World War II, and Entangled Politics. A view from Gdańsk

Should state-funded museums focus on the past of one nation, or should they open up their exhibitions to incorporate history of an entire region or even the whole world? Should borders of nation states converge with the borders of a museum’s exhibition? Who is the target audience of a state-funded museum: that state’s citizens or foreign tourists? Or maybe both groups?

These questions probably give headaches to all museum curators – especially in the century of Skype, Ryanair, the EU and electronic visas, when both historical research and museum audiences are increasingly less constrained by borders. These issues became of particular importance to the scholars and staff at the recently opened Museum of the Second World War in Gdańsk, Poland (incidentally, as a middle school student I interned in the very same museum). The staff not only had to tackle issues related to the exhibition, which opened to the public in March 2017, but also found themselves in the middle of a political struggle.

Museum of the Second World War, Gdańsk

On the surface, the conflict was between the liberals, who set up the museum in 2008, and the conservatives, who after an electoral victory in 2015 attempted to change the museum’s leadership and vision. However, the key questions, even if no-one framed them in such terms, were: Can a transnational and global approach to history deepen one’s understanding of the past and the present? And how do historians communicate such a new approach to a non-academic audience?

Up until the 1990s, history was studied almost exclusively from a “national” perspective. Borders of states defined the parameters of scholarship. Even those areas of history that by their nature called for a transnational approach – such as migration, colonialism or national minorities – were approached primarily through the prism of nation-states. Similarly, comparative history focused on phenomena happening in various nation-states, and boundaries were still treated as given.[1] This started to change in the 1990s,[2] when some historians (mainly) in America and Western Europe turned to investigating cross-border relations involving both state actors and non-state individuals (e.g. scientists), groups (e.g. migrants), and organisations (e.g. NGOs). Such an approach has been termed “transnational history” (although the concept still awaits a precise definition).[3]

Unsurprisingly, this new approach is primarily used to study phenomena which in an obvious way cross borders; these include trade, migration, or transfers of ideas and scholarship.[4] It is worthy of note that transnational history, a novel approach in itself, can be more easily applied to (relatively) new areas of historical research – such as those listed above – than to well-established fields – such as political history – which still tend to be analysed from a national perspective.[5]

In Poland, a transnational approach to history is an even greater novelty than in the West. As part of the undergraduate research assistantship programme I looked into the current status of transnational history in Polish academia and discovered that this approach appeared in Polish journals and research projects only recently: it was “imported” from the West. My survey of articles published in the past five years in major Polish historical journals [6] shows that works which mention transnational history or utilising a transnational approach are, with a few notable exceptions, authored by either foreign scholars publishing in Poland or Polish scholars educated and / or working abroad.

The latter are mostly younger scholars, such as Kornelia Kończal and Lidia Jurek (both educated as PhD candidates at EUI in Florence, an institute which has strong ties to the ITSH at St Andrews). Just like in “Western” academia, a transnational approach (even though not always labelled as such) tends to be more acceptable when applied to newer areas of historical research, such as environmental history,[7] than when used by political or military historians. Interestingly, the first written mention of transnational history that I managed to find is not in an academic journal, but on the popular Polish news and blogging website onet.pl. In the 2009 article ‘National history in a supranational perspective’ Marcin Kula, a historian based in Warsaw, shows how one’s understanding of Polish history can be expanded through studying it in a comparative and transnational perspective. Interestingly, Kula mentions that this is precisely what the general public will be able to learn in the (then-under-construction) Museum of the Second World War.[8]

This brings me back to the much debated Museum. When Kula published his article, a liberal government was sponsoring a museum that strove to present a comparative and transnational interpretation of the war to the broader public, from both Poland and abroad. After a change of government in 2015, a shift in the museum’s strategy was supposed to follow. This is because history, patriotism and identity in Poland are very strongly tied to one another. As a result, history is of considerable importance to people, both in their political choices and private lives. National history’s natural allies are the conservatives, who subscribe to a “national” (Polish) identity.

Transnational history, in contrast, tends to find supporters among liberals who generally identify not only with the Polish nation, but also with the broader European or world community, forging a “transnational” identity which crosses borders of nation states. This is not to simplify the Polish political stage to “conservatives” and “liberals” – every politician and every voter has his or her own perspective on politics, history and identity. I also do not believe the struggle between Poland’s two main political parties can be brought down to their support of or opposition towards “transnational” history (even though historians are, admittedly, overrepresented in Polish parliament). However, it is one of the factors worth remembering when analysing the “politics of history” in Central and Eastern Europe.

Should the Museum of Second World War in Gdańsk be “national” or “transnational”? Opinions on this matter vastly differ. It is worthy of note, however, that for legal reasons the new conservative government did not manage to introduce changes to the exhibition. Since the Museum – perhaps the first “transnational” museum in Poland – opened its doors in March 2017, the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Surprisingly this includes the enthusiasm of some conservatives, such as senator Anna Maria Anders, which may be interpreted as a hint that the exhibition will not change much in the foreseeable future.[9] Does the museum’s “transnational” approach work? Well, see for yourselves: Gdańsk is easily accessible by plane, and the entrance fee is approx. 5 pounds. I’m going there this Saturday.

by Tadek Wojtych, University of St Andrews

tadek.wojtych@gmail.com

 

[1] Ian Tyrrell, What is transnational history?, January 2007, <http://iantyrrell.wordpress.com/what-is-transnational-history/> [2 March 2017].

[2] Klaus Kiran Patel, Transnational History, 3 March 2010, <http://ieg-ego.eu/en/threads/theories-and-methods/transnational-history> [13 May 2017], par. 2.

[3] Ibid., par. 4.

[4] Davide Rodogno, Struck, Bernhard and Vogel, Jakob, ‘Introduction’ in Davide Rodogno, Bernhard Struck and Jakob Vogel (eds), Shaping the Transnational Sphere: Experts, Networks and Issues from the 1840s to the 1930s (New York and Oxford, 2015), p. 5.

[5] Patel, Transnational History, par. 2.

[6] I surveyed Acta Poloniae Historica (2012-2016), Kwartalnik Historyczny (2010-2014), Klio Polska (2012-2016) and Przegląd Nauk Historycznych (2011-2016). I also looked at Biuletyn Historii Pogranicza (2008-2013) because of its focus on borderlands.

[7] Edmund Kizik, ‘Review of Kommunikation der Pest. Seestädte des Ostseeraums und die Bedrohung durch die Seuche 1708–1713 by Carl Christian Wahrmann‘, Acta Poloniae Historica 107 (2013), pp. 225-31.

[8] Marcin Kula, Historia narodowa w ponadnarodowej perspektywie, 5 October 2009, <http://wiadomosci.onet.pl/kiosk/historia-narodowa-w-ponadnarodowej-perspektywie/9l5hl> [2 March 2017].

[9] ‘Córka gen. Andersa o Muzeum II Wojny Światowej: „Fascynujące, świetnie zrobione”’, wyborcza.pl, 23 April 2017 <http://goo.gl/QdyUGz> [17 May 2017].