Notions of the ‘global’ in historiography after the spatial turn, per Katja Naumann

8 juny, 2017

En el marc del Seminari internacional Perspectives globals en les Humanitats i les Ciències Socials, us convidem a la darrera conferència del cicle Notions of the ‘global’ in historiography after the spatial turn, a càrrec de Katja Naumann, investigadora al Entanglements and Globalization Department de la Universitat de Leipzig.

La conferència tindrà lloc el dijous 15 de juny de les 14.30h a les 15:30h a la seu central de la UOC (Avinguda Tibidabo, 39-43 08035 Barcelona).

Inscripcions: l’entrada és lliure, però cal inscriure’s aquí.


Resum de la conferència

Historians of all times have tried to make sense of the(ir) world and have written about humanity’s past. What is then special about ‘global’ historiography after the spatial turn? Where does it come from, and how did it depart from older all-encompassing narratives?

Efforts to get to grips with ‘the global’, ‘the universal’ or the world are as old as history as a genre and later academic discipline itself. In the mid 19th century, when the movement of people, ideas and goods increased and resulted in denser connections and intensified transfers, a search for new ways of conceiving the ‘global’ emerged. The efforts of conceptual renewal paralleled the well-known national narratives and slowly led to a growing awareness and criticism of methodological nationalism and the Eurocentric orientation in historiography. In consequence, also universal history, the field that dealt most directly with the world at large, has come under attack, in particular for its universalist-metaphysical orientation.

The resulting interest in all sorts of border-crossings, interrelations and entanglements between communities, societies and cultures around the world led to a large historiographical movement towards connected and comparative histories, each with its conceptual concerns. Some scholars study transfers as an alternative to older notions of influence and diffusion, others are looking at imperial settings and the mutual constituency of colonial metropoles and the colonies. Again others situate nations and nation-states in wider cross-border dynamics. The connections between the large regions of the world, the common pasts of ‘Africa’, ‘Asia’, ‘Europe’ etc., and also the interrelations between different spaces of action (the local, national, regional, international, and global) are inquired.

The presentation will introduce this layered process of conceptual renewal and how this is reflected in different approaches pursued today. I will pay attention to the common ground of current conceptions of ‘the globe’, among other a theoretical reflection on space (summarized as spatial turn) and a thorough rethinking of how interrelations and interactions in unequal constellations enfold. Additionally, one aspect of the large variety of methodologies and research agendas will be pointed out: what transnational, transregional, world and global history means in specific contexts, also depends on and relates to the tradition and shape of the respective national historiographies.

Nota biogràfica

katjanaumannKatja Naumann is researcher in the Department “Entanglements and Globalization“ of the Leibniz Institute for the History and Culture of Eastern Europe and teaches global history at the University of Leipzig. Her research interest are the history of international organizations from a transnational perspective, with a focus on actors from Eastern Central Europe, and the history of historiography. Her dissertation was about the development of world history teaching and writing in the US (1918-1968). She works in the editorial boards of Connections. A Journal for Historian and Area Specialist” and Comparativ. Journal of Global History and Comparative Studies.

Selecció d’articles

Naumann, Katja, “Laboratorien der Weltgeschichtsschreibung. Lehre und Forschung an den Universitäten Chicago, Columbia und Harvard, 1918-1968”, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht (forthcoming)

Naumann, Katja, “Avenues and Confines of Globalizing the Past: UNESCO’s International Commission for a “Scientific and Cultural History of Mankind” (1952-1969)”. In: Madeleine Herren (Hrsg.), Networking the International System. Global Histories of International Organizations, Heidelberg 2014, pp. 187-200.

Naumann, Katja & Matthias Middell, “The Writing of World History in Europe from the Middle of the Nineteenth Century to the Present: Conceptual Renewal and Challenge to National Histories”. In: M. Middell / L. Roura y Aulinas (Hrsg.), Transnational Challenges to National History Writing in Europe, Basingstoke 2013, pp. 54-139.

Naumann, Katja, “Fresh Look from an old Place: (Re-)Writing World Histories in Europe”. In: Douglas Northrop (Hrsg.), A Companion on World History, Malden, MA, 2012, pp. 478-496.

Naumann, Katja & Matthias Middell, “Global History and the Spatial Turn. From the Impact of Area Studies to the Study of Critical Junctures of Globalisation”. In: Journal of Global History 5 (2010) 1, pp. 149–170.

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