(no subject)

Whilst I've been primarily using this journal to keep track of my friends' accounts and some comms of personal interest, I've decided that it might be a good place to also keep notes for my research papers. Those of you who have no idea what various bits pertain to - I'm sorry, you can ignore the academic blethering ;)

Websites I really need to get around to looking at asap:


Papers in progress:

Constructing Anglo-Portuguese encounters in early-Modern Asia

Civic art: Concepts of identity, belonging and European borders

THESIS! (I'm working on it - I promise)

Background knowledge development:

What is Transnational History?

Even after 15 to 20 years of debate, there is still no agreement among historians on a precise notion of transnational history, other than the negative definition according to which it is an alternative to the still dominant concentration on national history. Transnational history's relationship to closely connected approaches – for example, to global history and post-colonial studies, to world history and histoire croisée, as well as to entangled history and international history – remains in dispute. Whereas some understand transnational history as an umbrella term in the debate, others see a plurality of different approaches or grant one of the other labels a position of primacy. Moreover, there is no consensus on the question of whether transnational history can be confined to certain periods or topics. The problem is made more difficult by the fact that the divergent concepts and theories in different languages do not correspond to each other directly.

It remains unclear whether there will ever be a consensus on these questions. Due to a certain pragmatic axiom, the various participants in the debate have, however, so far avoided approaching this dispute as a doctrinal war. Instead, pragmatism has prevailed internationally, according to which it is more important to promote and produce empirical studies that follow a transnational model than to become entangled in a conceptual debate. The positive results of this stance are obvious. However, the lack of rigidity raises the danger that the concept "transnational history" will gain the appearance of a fashionable, but empty phrase – a possible development that is in nobody's interest.

Akira Iriye and Pierre-Yves Saunier, editors of the recent Palgrave Dictionary of Transnational History, provide a relatively open, and thus a perhaps – for some – rather vague definition: they claim that transnational history deals with the "links and flows", the "people, ideas, products, processes and patterns that operate over, across, through, beyond, above, under, or in-between polities and societies".

At the same time, for Iriye and Saunier, transnational history cannot be defined by its (broadly construed) subject. They understand it not as a theory or method but as “an angle, a perspective". Although the concept of perspective remains undertheorised in history writing, it suggests a relationship between the object of analysis (the past) and the observer (the historian). Accordingly, the approach of transnational history is primarily defined by the questions guiding the historian's research on the "links and flows" mentioned above. Others have, in the past, provided a similar definition, but it remains disputed. The fact that the Palgrave Dictionary, which brings together around 350 authors and thus a large proportion of the "transnational historians", now also works with this definition, certainly gives it additional weight.