HIS 653 — Transnationalizing History/Historicizing the Global

By now, it has become widely accepted that History (with a capital H) was deeply implicated in naturalizing the territorially delimited nation-state as one of the fundamental categories of historical analysis and narration. This recognition of the radical historicity of their own disciplinary knowledge is leading many historians to take the “transnational turn.” Despite the rapid spread of transnational studies, however, the theoretical thrust and the political valences of the concept still remain imprecise.

Furthermore, so many of the works which march under this banner do so with little or no critical analysis of race, gender, and sexuality. This seminar will explore how ideas on gender, race, and class helped structure global flows of peoples, ideas, and goods and legitimize the unequal power relations that they embodied. In this seminar, we will also discuss how the state serves as a “surface of articulation” between the global and the national. In the end, we will all learn that transnational perspective affects historical narratives and the making of alternative possibilities. The ultimate goal of this seminar is to reflect on strengths, the weaknesses, and future directions of the current transnational turn.

The first half of the seminar will be devoted to reading and discussing recent scholarly literature in the field in order to help students define the parameters and guiding questions for their own research (Readings include selections from: Postcolonial Disorders; Christopher A. Bayly, The Birth of the Modern World; Matthew P. Guterl, American Mediterranean; T. Ballantyne/A. Burton (eds.), Bodies in Contact; Étienne Balibar on transnational citizenship; Geoff Eley, “Historicizing the Global”; S. Conrad/D. Sachsenmai (eds.), Competing Visions of World Oder: Global Moments and Movements). Students are expected to submit a research paper (20-25 pages).