E – Concepts and digital tools, fields and disciplines in global history

Global History and the History of Small States: Research Agendas for the Integration of a Marginalized Field of Study”

Event Details

  • Date

    Saturday, 27 June - 11:00 – 13:00

    Saturday, 27 June - 14:00 – 16:00

  • Venue
    tba
  • Theme
    E – Concepts and digital tools, fields and disciplines in global history
Convenor
  • Stephan Scheuzger (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology / Liechtenstein Institute)
Chair
  • Stephan Scheuzger (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology / Liechtenstein Institute)
Commentator
  • Geert Castryck (Leipzig University)
  • Seán Williams (University of Sheffield)
Panelists
  • Stephan Scheuzger (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology / Liechtenstein Institute)
  • Syed Muhd Khairudin Aljunied (National University of Singapore)
  • Rosemarijn Hoefte (University of Amsterdam, Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies)
  • Denis Scuto (University of Luxembourg)
  • Carl Marklund (Södertörn University)
  • Andreas Mørkved Hellenes (Aarhus University)

Papers

  • Stephan Scheuzger
    The World in a Very Small State, a Very Small State in the World: Studying the History of Liechtenstein

    The World in a Very Small State, a Very Small State in the World: Studying the History of Liechtenstein

    Although highly entangled across territorial borders from its very beginnings, the history of Liechtenstein has basically been narrated in terms of a self-sufficient national history with the keys of understanding situated within the very small principality. At the same time, particularly the history of the last hundred years, in which Liechtenstein experienced a dramatic transformation from a very poor society to one of the richest countries worldwide is represented as a success story with the quality to serve as a model for others. Looking not only at the cross-border interconnectedness of crucial processes and events in the history of Liechtenstein but also discussing its peculiarities and similarities in broader contexts, the paper argues that not only historical scholarship on very small states but also the field of global history benefits from an integration of the history of very small states into global history perspectives.
  • Syed Muhd Khairudin Aljunied
    Small States, Global Significance: Singapore from an Entwined History Perspective

    Small States, Global Significance: Singapore from an Entwined History Perspective

    Although small states have played major roles in the shaping of global history, their significance have not gained the attention they duly deserve in much of the extant historiographical literature. The paper explores the case of Singapore, a small city state, which has a long yet jagged history of shaping global events and developments for more than seven centuries. Based on the methodology of “entwined history” the paper shows that Singapore's contribution to global history lies in four key areas: as a hub of world commerce, an interchange of scholars and statesmen, a pivot for empires and a meeting point for international organizations and movements. As a shaper of global history, Singapore's journey as a small state was fraught with challenges. The paper explores the manner to which successive states - kerajaan, colonial and postcolonial - in Singapore endured and overcame the vicissitudes of global crises and shocks.
  • Rosemarijn Hoefte
    Ethnic Diversity and Globalization in a Small Postcolonial Caribbean State

    Ethnic Diversity and Globalization in a Small Postcolonial Caribbean State

    “Our cultural diversity and how we live and work together peacefully, regardless of religion or ethnic roots, can be a model for the world.” These words by Surinamese president Desiré (Desi) Delano Bouterse, cherish the country’s diversity as a source of pride, as an example for the entire world. It is the cornerstone of Suriname’s image that is projected both at home and abroad. It took the country more than half a century to come to grips with its multicultural society and to address the question of how it sees itself and to find a way to present the nation to its citizens at home and abroad. Suriname is one of the countries that only make the news when disaster strikes. Since 2000 Suriname has made attempts to change this by trying to put itself on the map as a dynamic, multicultural country welcoming trade, foreign investment, and tourists, while mitigating its complex, heterogeneous sociocultural and political identity.
  • Denis Scuto
    A Very Small State Questioning the “Shock of the Global”: Luxembourg

    A Very Small State Questioning the “Shock of the Global”: Luxembourg

    In a few decades, the small state of Luxembourg developed from a still, in many of its people’s minds, rural, peasant and catholic community to a highly differentiated post-modern and cosmopolitan society, shaped by growing migration and commuter flows and characterised by a high degree of cultural and linguistic diversity. This evolution is tightly linked to the globalisation of the Luxembourg financial market place, beginning in the 1960s. This paper questions, from the perspective of a marginal European state, the little attention paid yet in global as well as in the own national historiography to this recently emerging financial centre and its implications on a limited territory with small numbers of citizens. The paper offers too a decentring historiographic perspective on the so-called “Shock of the Global”.
  • Carl Marklund
    Andreas Mørkved Hellenes
    Cultural Affinity and Small State Solidarity: Swedish Public Debate and Knowledge Production on Global North-South Relations in the 1970s

    Cultural Affinity and Small State Solidarity: Swedish Public Debate and Knowledge Production on Global North-South Relations in the 1970s

    The paper analyses how Sweden responded to the deeply entangled economic, environmental and political crisis of the 1970s and the rise of the non-aligned “Third World.” It discusses how Swedish perceptions of global North-South relations were reflected in two different spheres: public diplomacy and knowledge production. The respective debates evolved around the rhetorics of “cultural affinity” and “small state solidarity.” The paper argues that analysing these two rhetoric sets provides important insights for the understanding of the Swedish commitment to Nordic-global South relations. The notion of Sweden as a small state was used in this context by Swedish officials, politicians and the press not only to stress the difference to the great powers, but also as a means of establishing a link of solidarity with the decolonizing global South. Consequently, the paper will also provide the opportunity to shed another light on the concept of small states besides the panel’s other case studies on Luxembourg, Singapore, Suriname, and Liechtenstein.

Abstract

The panel deals with the topic of minorities, cultures of integration, and patterns of exclusion at three levels. At a meta level, the section discusses the possibilities to integrate a hitherto almost completely marginalized field of historical research into the perspectives of global history: the history of small and very small states. Above all a product of the Cold War, small states studies have hardly transcended the disciplinary sphere of political sciences and have lost a considerable part of its scholarly attention in the last decades. In historiography, particularly the study of very small states has mainly taken place within the realm of rather selfsufficient, not to say parochial, versions of national history. Systematic, broad-based contributions to the questions what small and very small states have been and what smallness has meant for a country and its society are largely lacking. The long tradition of equating smallness with weakness and of questioning the capability of small and very small states to survive notwithstanding, their number has grown in the last decades. For many social actors, small small states have represented an attractive form of political organization – also in the context of processes of globalization. Representing a minority within the state system, small and very small states have specifically been subject to the interplay of integration and exclusion at the level of international politics. The relative scarcity of crucial resources has borne the risk for these states to fall victim to the disregard of their interests and the imposition of other states’ will. At the same time, due to this peripheral position and the fact that they have in many instances been unable to perform the whole array of public tasks on their own, particularly very small states have in a large measure depended on alliances, cooperation, and outsourcings. They have been highly entangled across national borders. At the national level, social, political, economic, and cultural developments in small and very small states have been particularly exposed to mechanisms of inclusion and exclusion too. Questions of belonging, of inside and outside, of minority and majority have acquired a pe- 2 culiar significance in the face of small numbers of citizens, limited territories, short distances in social relations, or limited economic resources on the one hand and a far-reaching international and transnational interconnectedness on the other. This has become manifest in social policies as well as in dealing with migration, in the construction of national identities as well as in financial and economic policies. The panel aims to discuss the promises and challenges of an application of global history approaches to the study of very small states – which represent a truly global phenomenon. Comparative perspectives on a global scale have the capacity to generate new understandings of the histories of very small states, identifying similarities and differences. The same is true for the reconstruction and analysis of border-crossing connections in wider, global contexts. Moreover, global history’s central concern of decentring historiographic perspectives is highly relevant for the study of very small states. Conversely, it can not only be argued that the experiences of societies under the condition of an absolute or relative smallness of their countries represent an important topic for the endeavour to understand the human past in a global dimension. Research on the allegedly marginal phenomenon of very small states also entails the possibility to study historical developments in uniquely comprehensive ways providing insights of significance far beyond scholarly interests in these particular entities. Focusing on cases from the Americas to Europe and Asia, the contributions explore knowledge potentials of a global perspectivation of the history of small and very small states. On this basis, the panel outlines research agendas and reflects on promising forms of collaboration.