Second ENIUGH-Congress: Session "Historiography II"

European Network in World and Global History (ENIUGH)
03.07.2008 - 05.07.2008
Katja Naumann, Geisteswissenschaftliches Zentrum Geschichte und Kultur Ostmitteleuropas (GWZO), Universität Leipzig

In the following you find a report on the session "Historiography II" of the Second European Congress on World and Global History. The general aim and structure of the congress are described at: <>

Session: "Historiography II"
Report by Katja Naumann, Geisteswissenschaftliches Zentrum Geschichte und Kultur Ostmitteleuropas (GWZO), Universität Leipzig

Friedrich Karl Alberecht Penck wrote in 1916 that if knowledge is power, then geographical knowledge educes world power [1]; this can surely be said for the study of the past. Historical interpretations do not only reflect contemporary societal orders, but are also instruments of their negotiation, for historiography comprises both judgments of the present and an orientation for what is yet to come. After all, narratives of the past are closely aligned with present-day spheres of action, structures of power, and patterns of order. Thus, transformations of these arrangements immediately effect changes in the various forms of collective memory and established practices of memoralization. The session “Historiography II” sought to explore these entanglements and whether the often-stated processes of globalization during the 19th century are reflected in the concepts, daily praxis, and institutions of historiography. If this were so, then one could possibly seize the intellectual expression of world orders corresponding to the changing forms of global integration. Thus, the four panels of this session took a closer look at historiographical developments since the last third of the 19th century, including, in a wider sense, historical culture and its correlation to societal transnationalizations.

The broadest perspective was taken up by the panel „Globalization of Historiography and Academic Structures,“ chaired by DOMINIC SACHSENMAIER (Durham) and KATJA NAUMANN (Leipzig). NADINE JÄNICKE (Leipzig) offered an analysis of bestselling literature from the social sciences, focusing on the writings of Francis Fukuyama, Samuel P. Huntington, and Joseph E. Stiglitz. Jänicke explored the political and ideological underpinnings in these texts and demonstrated the constitutive roles of both literary means and narrative structures for each construction of world orders. In addition, she showed that historical narratives where used to enforce particular notions of globalization in all texts, which again were linked with respective constitutions of political space. DAVID MAYER (Vienna) turned to Marxist theory and historiography. He underlined its importance for global interpretations of the 20th century, since Marxism represents an intellectual world order bringing about a range of transnational entanglements—itself a global phenomenon. By sketching the positioning of the Komintern towards the national liberation movements in colonized territories and by considering the transition-debates, Mayer suggested three characteristic dimensions of Marxist approaches: first, they were both a resource for emancipation projects and instruments for the legitimization of power; second, as much as they transcended the national framework they remained deliberately embedded in it; and third, they were used simultaneously for a thorough challenge of imperialism and western hegemony while serving the reinforcement of Eurocentric viewpoints. MARNIE HUGHES-WARRINGTON (Sydney) presented another historiographical reaction towards experiences of globalization, and discussed world history writing in Great Britain during the first half of the 20th century. She offered an explanation of the decline of British interest in global interpretations of the past at the same moment there was a boom in US world history, by pointing out the weakening of “British Idealism” since 1915 that strengthened the interest world history. Particularly illuminating were Hughes-Warrington’s insights into the Australian case, where world history was used to enforce demands of greater independence from the British Empire.

The second part of this panel was oriented towards institutional contexts. HEIKE BUNGERT (Münster) introduced the history of the “International Association of Universities” (IAU), founded in 1950 and until 1968, attracting more than 500 institutions from over 94 countries. The international organization marks a clear expression of the perceptions of intensified globalization after the end of World War II, since the incentives for its founding were globally increasing the number of students and their larger cross-border mobility, as well as the dynamics of global knowledge exchanges that seem beyond the management of any single nation-state. Therefore, regulations of the expanding university sector were sought by a transnational network of experts organizing exchange, cooperation, and regulation. In the discussion of that paper, it was pointed out that efforts of international cooperation are at least partly driven by political interest, and that the IAU rather affirmed imbalances in resources and influences between the member universities. CAROL ADAMSON (Stockholm) took a closer look at levels of effective history teaching, particularly in Secondary Schools. Using the „International Baccalaureate Diploma Program“ (IBDP) and its obligatory world history curriculum as an example, she raised critical questions, such as how diverging ideas of the past by students from different origins can be addressed productively within multicultural classrooms.

DIETMAR ROTHERMUND (Heidelberg), HANS-HEINRICH NOLTE (Barsinghausen), SEBASTIAN CONRAD (Florence) and ANDREA KOMLOSY (Vienna) participated in a roundtable discussion on „World Regions and the Writing of World History,” aimed at clarifying the pros and cons of this conceptual approach. With this, they took up the threat in current, particularly German, debates on transnational and world history that involve three dimensions: the first is concerned with making out appropriate spatial units of analysis for the reconstruction of cross-cultural and global interactions and transfer processes; analytical categories that capture the complexity of simultaneous integration and autonomy. The second revolves around the many spatial forms of the social, political, cultural, or economic sphere as created, imagined, or challenged by historical actors and asks for their best representation in the methodological and theoretical instruments of world historians—particularly when their divergence, incontemporaneity, overlapping, and constant transformation is to be seized. Finally, an inner-academic exchange process is addressed, namely the positioning toward the U.S.-American “area studies” and world history writing. World history emerged on the other side of the Atlantic from earlier studies of extra-European history, which divided the past along macro-regions, such as Africa or Asia. It was so successful in its institutionalization that it is of large appeal to many European-based historians. On the other hand, with the end of the Cold War a sharp criticism of the continental separation of a global consistency had been formulated in the US. The treatment of the world in terms of essentializing and homogenizing regions/ areas was dismissed as having served geopolitical interests in times of the bi-polar confrontation and as being part of an epistemology of colonialism. Taken seriously, this argument necessitates a thorough re-examination of the intellectual costs in the US as well as in Europe, i.e. the theoretical and practical limits in using world regions for the study of globalization processes. When these dimensions were addressed in the roundtable, the different regional expertise of the speakers—ranging from the Indian Ocean and Asia to Eastern Europe and the Baltic Sea—proved to be quite valuable.

In the third panel (Giovanni Arrighi's "The Long 20th Century" revisited), developed and chaired by ERIC VANHAUTE (Ghent), the main work of the sociologist Givanni Arrighi took center stage. Resuming the world system-approach of Braudel and Wallerstein, Arrighi presents an analysis of the genesis and development of modern capitalism since the 13th century, focusing on the nexus between capital accumulation and state-building, as well as on the emergence of changing hegemonic powers. The papers of this panel addressed two aspects especially: on the one hand they aimed at determining the influence and potential of the work for current debates on globalization in the social sciences; on the other, some of Arrighi’s central concepts and termini were further elaborated. At the outset, JAN-FREDERIK ABBELOOS (Ghent) discussed the main arguments of the author against the background of other interpretations of the 20th century; for example, John Hobson’s „Imperialism“ (1902) and David Harvey’s „New Imperialism“ (2003) thus provided an overview on publications dealing with the relationship between imperialism and globalization. CEDRIC BEIDATSCH (Perth) posed the question if, and how, cycles of development and formations of capitalism can be compared globally, and whether such a study would identify global adjustments. In contrast, the next paper, co-authored by PEPIJN BRANDON (Amsterdam), MARJOLEIN ’T HART (Amsterdam), THOMAS GOOSSENS (Brussels), and GRIET VERMEESCH (Brussels), turned towards one concrete example, the hegemonic rise of the Netherlands in early modern times. Their starting point was marked by Arrighi’s observation that Italian city-states had successfully commercialized warfare to the effect of the accumulation of long-term stable capital. This is remarkable, as in general, territorial expansion by war is interpreted as a double-edged sword, since it is both a pre-condition for capital accumulation while simultaneously causing capital destruction. The examination of the Dutch financing of its European wars underlined the importance of wars for territorial and capital increase. A third paper by JASON W. MOORE (Chapel Hill) pointed out the close connection between the development of capitalism and ecology. Moore argued that global accumulation regimes, as revealed by Arrighi, should be understood in their dialectical relationship with ecological conditions and transformations. For example, the rise of the Spanish Empire in the 17th century was followed by ecological changes due to the expansive silver mining, and the British Empire was thoroughly challenged by famines in its colonies during the 19th century. Moore convincingly made the point of the decisive influence ecological developments had on capital and power.

The final panel of this session (Historiography around the Globe, ca. 1900) discussed how, at the turn of the 19th century, historical knowledge was mobilized to a hitherto unknown extent for political and social projects—from support for nationalization movements to pleas for an active participation in processes of global integration. This new and intensified usage of history was by far not limited to academic historiography, but is visible in the history culture in general. MICHAEL MANN (Hagen) summarized the paper of Andreas Eckert on the African case and supplemented it with comparable developments on the Indian subcontinent. In West Africa around 1900 the traditional non-written transmission of the past was widened by a considerable historiographical production, mainly by local amateur historians. This fact suggests an important link between colonizers and colonized regarding the interpretation of history. Although this local historiography was stirred by the colonial administration’s need of historical knowledge and legitimization, thus requiring local authority and expertise, local actors were successful in setting their own versions of the past against the postulated ahistoricity of the continent or other colonial interpretations. Furthermore, independent ideas on modernization and development were formulated. Additionally, in India historiography was used to challenge and oppose the colonial power as well as for the mobilization of the masses. Here the traditional south Asian traditions (inscriptions on copper plates, stone edicts or annals) together with a corresponding historical consciousness were enlarged by constructions of traditions serving a newly national self-assertion. Various religious communities were re-interpreted as nations; national heroes and myths were created, and previously private or regional festivals turned into public and supra-regional national celebrations. Even a modest professionalization in the dealing with the past emerged. The paper of STEFANIE GÄNGER (Cambridge) led to Latin America, and presented an often-overlooked sphere of dealings with the past, namely archeology. Gänger explained that for the region around the Chilean-Peruvian border, archeological expeditions with excavations and their interpretation played a significant role for the annexation and nationalization of the Peruvian region of Tarapacá, Tacna, and Arica, which became part of Chile after the Pacific War (1879-1883). In addition, by 1900, archeological knowledge was also used for the symbolic appropriation of the new territory by fusing it into a transnational scientific discourse that emerged in the context of an increasingly internationally connected academic community. In return, the recognition of the findings of Chilean archeology in the international scholarly debates provided the Chilean state with visibility, authority, and influence. Concluding this panel, Katja Naumann (Leipzig) spoke about the North American continent. She also argued for the caesura marked by the two decades around 1900. In face of the challenges of a modernizing society and due to the increasingly globally oriented geopolitics, in the US historical knowledge also gained unseen societal significance. The study of the past was professionalized, with history emerging as a scientific discipline within the general transformation processes of the university system since the 1880s. It was also precisely the time when a collective, and publicly articulated, historical consciousness was in the molding, apparent in a multitude of new cultural practices of remembering and memorialization. Interestingly, the construction of a national past was paralleled by transnational historical narratives, which developed their own dynamics: universal history in its European shape dominated the 19th century, and was replaced by a general history in the form of histories of civilizations, among others “Western Civilization”, in which the previous opposition between the ‘old’ and the ‘new’ world was given up in favor of a transatlantic unity between Europe and the US.

In sum, the session has shown that in the past one and half centuries of historiography and historical culture around the world were considerably shaped by societal transformations in reaction to globalization processes—something that has escaped the former concentration in research focusing primarily on national history writing. It also made clear that historiographical constructions and historical interpretations since the last third of the 19th century were perceived and used as powerful instruments in the positioning toward a new global condition, having emerged forcefully in the middle of the 19th century.

[1] Friedrich Karl Albrecht Penck, Der Krieg und das Studium der Geographie, in: Zeitschrift der Gesellschaft für Erdkunde zu Berlin 3(1916)4, S. 227.

Program of Session
Panel: Globalisation of Historiography and Academic Structures; chairs: Katja Naumann, GWZO an der Universität Leipzig, DE; Dominic Sachsenmaier, Duke University, US
Nadine Jänicke: "Prophets, Therapists and Agitators: Formulations of World Orders in the light of Globalisation"
David Mayer: "20th century Marxist Historiography – toppler or pillar of intellectual world-orders?"
Marnie Hughes-Warrington: "Desired World Orders in British and Australian World Histories, 1915-1945"
Heike Bungert: "In Search of Stability, Intellectual Exchange, and Global Solutions: The International Association of Universities"
Carol Adamson: "Approaches to the Teaching of World History in Secondary Schools
The International Baccalaureate Diploma Program"

Roundtable: „World Regions and Writing of World History“ with Dietmar Rothermund, Hans-Heinrich Nolte, Sebastian Conrad, Andrea Komlosy

Panel: Giovanni Arrighi's "The Long 20th Century" revisited, chair: Eric Vanhaute, Ghent University, B
Jan-Frederik Abbeloos: "Imperialism versus globalisation in the long twentieth century?"
Cedric Beidatsch: "Re-reading Arrighi after Mielants: is it possible to unify cycles and forms of 'capitalism' globally?"
Pepijn Brandon, Marjolein ’t Hart, Thomas Goossens, Griet Vermeesch: "The commercialization of warfare: the development of a crucial factor within the MTM’ and TMT’ strategies of hegemonic powers. The case of the Dutch hegemony in comparative perspective"
Jason W. Moore, "The Long 16th Century. Ecology, Capital, and the Origins of Our Times"
Eric Vanhaute: “Giovanni Arrighi and the structuring of historical time: Maneuvers on an ideological battlefield”

Panel: Historiography around the Globe, ca. 1900, chair: Michael Mann, FernUniversität Hagen
Michael Mann, Andreas Eckert, Historische Repräsentationen um 1900 in Afrika und Indien im Vergleich
Stefanie Gänger: As if They Were Alive’: Natural Mummification and Nationalist Archaeology in the Post-War Borderlands of Chile and Peru (1883 – 1910s)
Katja Naumann: The decades around 1900 as caesura in academic and public history in the U.S.


Katja Naumann
GWZO, Universität Leipzig
Luppenstrasse 1b
04177 Leipzig

Tagungsbericht: Second ENIUGH-Congress: Session "Historiography II", 03.07.2008 – 05.07.2008 Dresden, in: Connections. A Journal for Historians and Area Specialists, 14.11.2008, <>.
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