(NB: By fish, I obviously mean the historiographical and methodological enlightenment that has happened over the past eleven or so weeks. However, that doesn’t make for a particularly catchy title.)
Like the two or three posts below mine on the blog, I’m just going to come out and say it – I still don’t have a better definition of what transnational history is, even after twelve weeks of classes. I know that it’s attempting to close gaps previous historical writing, which, when confined to the nation-state, ignores networks and connections that could enlighten our understanding of historical events. The enormous diversity of what can be considered ‘transnational’ is staggering – this is something that we have all seen in our readings, looking at soup cubes or Taiwanese peasant farmers, as well as our presentations, which have covered everything from beer to ovens to maps. This diversity is, in all likelihood, due to the sheer novelty of transnational history as a an approach to history.
Beyond the new approaches to history that I’ve picked up this semester, I’ve also had the chance to learn some other skills too. These classes were far more discussion-based than other tutorials, which was interesting both because it gave us all a chance to engage more with the material, as well as putting us on the spot if we hadn’t done our reading. (I was certainly periodically guilty of this.) The emphasis on using new software, such as QGIS and Gephi, in our historical practice was also something novel for me. I think the best part of this module, however, was the passion and interest (and occasional confusion) that everyone brought to this module. It made such a difference in how we engaged with the material, and I think that the fact that people were able to pursue research projects based on their own interests also brought a spark to class discussions. I’d like to just say thank you to everyone in the class for an excellent semester.