Plenary Discussions

Plenary Discussions

Institutionalizing Global History – current experiences and future planning

Saturday, 19 June, 11:30am – 2:15 pm

Convenor: Matthias Middell (Leipzig University, Research Center Global Dynamics)

The aim of this plenary discussion is to explore – in addition to the many contributions presenting new concepts and new empirical findings during the congress – a kind of balance sheet of where we stand with the institutionalization of global history in Europe. In several, though of course not in all European countries, global history has meanwhile found a firm place also in funding programs, in the research profile of many institutions and also partly already in the curricula of academic teaching. The number of professorships that are advertised and filled with a reference to global history issues is on the rise. Likewise, the number of journals with a clear global history profile has increased in recent years, and their success shows that they satisfy a need among readers.

At the same time, it is heard again and again that global history research and teaching can be solidly realized only through cooperation, which precisely means that several researchers pool their expertise. This is also visible in the larger number of thematic anthologies in which this cooperation manifests itself.

Taking these two arguments together, one would expect that the institutionalization of global history research is already well advanced. Local, national, but also transnational graduate schools and colleges confirm this idea, as well as research networks and institutes within and outside universities that coordinate the work of several researchers on global history as a whole or on individual sub-topics in a global historical perspective. Some of these institutions are entirely historically oriented, others are more interdisciplinary. However, it is also evident that many research approaches continue to be driven by individual initiatives.

The picture that could lead to such a balance is thus initially ambivalent, but above all incomplete. This is due to the fact that hardly anyone has an overview of the developments in all European countries, and the various models of institutionalization are hardly comparable with each other, even if the outstanding initiatives can be traced by their websites.

In addition, the problem of research data management is now emerging more and more. Science policy is pushing for researchers to store their data in such a way that they can be verified later (for example, in the case of a publication) and that they can also be used by other researchers if necessary. There are funding initiatives for new data repositories and the training towards more qualified data literacy at both European and national level. Actually, it would stand to reason that Global History would be among the forerunners of this development, since it has repeatedly emphasized how heavily it depends on the collective use of large data sets and can hardly generate all its insights only through primary research in archives.

The panel comes in two parts. In the first part, the following scholars will give an input on a specific topic particularly important from his/her perspective when reflecting on the transition from individual research to larger institutes/alliances/centres: Sebastian Conrad (Freie Universität Berlin; Director of the Forum of Transregional Studies, Berlin); Lisa Hellmann (Bonn Center for Dependency and Slavery Studies); Federica Morelli (Universitá de Torino); Allessandro Stanziani (Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales Paris); Sujit Sivasundaram (Cambridge University); N.N. (University of Munich).

The inputs will not be longer than 5-7 minutes each in order to allow for substantial discussion time afterwards. Among the topics are MA-programmes, transnational graduate schools, cooperation in the field of research and fellowship programmes, transdisciplinary clusters of research,

In the second part, the panelists look at the respective focal points of the other presenters and invite for an open debate with the audience at large that approaches the question of whether there are perhaps initiatives in which several locations would be jointly interested and in which they could cooperate.

Detailed information on all the other plenary discussions will follow shortly.