I have learned a lot this semester, that is undoubtable. I will admit it has definitely been a challenge to engage with such a complex and constantly evolving field within the discipline of History. Nevertheless, it has been very much a necessary and formative challenge for my academic development and personal outlook on history and the current world. At its core, this module has made me more sensitive to the fact of the nation as not being all-encompassing in its shaping of history. Transnational history helps us ultimately to engage with the reality of a very important and valid life beyond the nation which goes back centuries.
People, events, objects, ideas in the past were clearly mobile and transcended often more than one boundary which the nation has constructed be it physical or metaphorical. Saunier and others have made this point about ‘methodological honesty’ so crucial to doing transnational history; to follow our subjects through the historical record wherever that may take us (sometimes trawling archives across the world), and cross borders in the same fashion that they did. The multiple sites and spaces which transnational actors have traversed in the past can both create new, independent phenomena which are strictly transnational in nature – such as some international organisations built to serve a common cause globally (e.g. Médecins sans frontières) – and make a certain nation’s history and/or present more diverse in its international and global influences (e.g. the notion of America as historically having been a ‘free’ and ‘immigrant’ nation).
In a time where the politicisation of national rhetoric is widespread surely it is more important than ever to offer up some balance. In space, scale and timeframe transnational history is much more than a study of the manifestations of globalisation. Yet in our current globalised world, the methods used, and knowledge produced, by transnational historians can instil in us a greater sensitivity to the factors which have long connected (rather than divided) us in the most unique ways and continue to do so today.