The first congress was held in 2005 in Leipzig with about 300 participants from all over Europe and other parts of the world, meeting in almost 50 panels. The opening speeches were given by Prof. Michael Geyer (University of Chicago) and Prof. Patrick O’Brien (London School of Economics). The closing event was a round table discussion with William Clarence-Smith (SOAS London), Patrick Fridenson (EHESS Paris), Alexander Nützenadel (Universität zu Köln), Hannes Siegrist (Universität Leipzig) and Peer Vries (Universiteit Leiden).
Three purposes were central to the centre of the three-day conference:
- giving a broad overview of the numerous efforts in various European countries, not only with respect to research questions, but also with regard to how world and global history is or should be taught at schools and universities
- stimulating a discussion about the intellectual traditions of world history writing, which are viewed in various European countries as a positive reference or as the background for the current debates in world and global history
- addressing fundamental methodological questions of today’s global history writing since, especially from a European perspective, world history has to confront the long tradition of Eurocentric thinking and to explore new ways of analysing the relationship between Europe and extra-European regions, as well as reflecting on the role of Europe or its nation states in international organizations and global networks.
The second congress of European world and global historians took place in Dresden in 2008 and profited also from the large presence of world historians from Australia, China, Japan, Cameroon, Nigeria, South Africa, and the US.
An excellent opportunity arose to compare the state of the art of world and global history in different world regions. This became especially relevant as shortly before the congress started, representatives of the North American-based World History Association (WHA), the then recently established Asian Association of World Historians (AAWHA), together with colleagues from Africa and Latin America and from ENIUGH launched a world-wide network of organisations focusing on world and global history (NOGWHISTO).
The opening lectures were given by Anthony G. Hopkins (Walter Prescott Webb Chair of History and Ideas at the Department of History, University of Texas at Austin) dealing with historiography’s trajectory “From Postmodernism to Globalisation” and by Bénédicte Savoy (Institute for History and Art’s History at the Technical University Berlin) giving a lecture on transnational art history under the title “’Es gibt nichts schöneres auf dem ganzen sublunarischen Erdenrunde.’ Die Kunstsammlungen Dresdens in transnationaler Perspektive”. Both addressed the current debate on globalisation and history from their respective disciplinary perspectives as specialists of British imperial history and continental history of arts, thus focusing on transnational entanglements of and within Europe from different angles.
In the closing discussion Peer Vries (Vienna), Patrick O’Brien (London), Barbara Lüthi (Basel), Katja Naumann (Leipzig) and Madeleine Herren (Heidelberg) targeted crucial themes arising from the panels and expressed their general impressions about what was gained during those three days: notably that an increasing number of younger scholars are entering and strengthening the field of world and global history writing and teaching.
The Dresden congress was organised under the title “World Orders”, a topic which had been largely dealt with in political science, and which is very prominent in the study of international relations, while historians had made only marginal contributions or at least had not used the term so prominently. The idea of “Global Governance”, which is challenged by the idea of only one remaining superpower after 1989, has inspired historians as well to revisit the category of empire, from Rome to Washington. Some have argued that there are lessons to be learnt from the Victorian Empire, while others dispute the continuity from old fashioned European imperialism to the contemporary world order. In late 19th century imperialism, World Order was guaranteed by a potent great power (or a couple of such powers) with the ambition to control world affairs by military means and by political pressure based in economic superiority. From a global historian’s point of view this raises such questions as what exactly was ‘controlled’? What did control mean with regard to territoriality, trade routes, major resources like energy and raw materials, markets, financial institutions and so forth? This raises the further issue of when in history it makes sense to speak of a world order. Or to formulate it differently: since when do great powers dispose of the technology to control essential parts of world economy and since when have world markets and world affairs been more important than domestic markets and domestic affairs for the chances to develop societies?
These and many other questions were addressed in the nine sessions, with up to five panels each. Reports on the session are available at history.transnational, a publication of the key notes is available.
|Last Updated ( Friday, 14 January 2011 )|