Presentation Comments

A huge congratulations to everyone on some fantastic presentations. I watched quite a few of them, and I loved hearing about everyone’s different ideas. Everyone was so engaging and knowledgeable about her individual projects. I also want to say a huge thank you to everyone for our unconference hours, feedback on the short presentations, and of course a massive thank you to Bernhard and Milinda for the constant jokes and support. It has been a true joy partaking in your banter and learning from your intellect. Thank you for making my last semester here enjoyable and informative.


First of all, I could listen to you talk all day. Your accent is magnificent. Have you ever considered audiobooks?

Your topic is fascinating, and you did a wonderful job explaining it in a clear and concise manner. I was very appreciative of the different historiographical aspects of your presentation and how they each tie into each other. Have you researched the link between American national identity and the construction of wilderness? It is rooted in many of the same ideologies it seems you are drawing on in your long essay – man and nature as necessarily separate entities etc. If you have any interest in exploring this topic for your long essay, I have quite a few sources that could be very interesting to you!


Great presentation, Avery! It was super enjoyable to listen to and very informative. How have you found postcolonialism as a theoretical framework? Postcolonial feminism is an interesting theory, and clearly well suited for your research in Ireland and India. I was wondering if you have ever worked with decoloniality? Maria Lugones has some really interesting articles about decolonial feminism that might be helpful and interesting to your work. She explains that colonisation did not simply create the colonised but also forcibly introduced European understandings of gender relations, social patterns, and disrupted the cosmological understandings of invaded communities. This erased the pre-colonial conception of sex and gender and replaced it with European-produced-knowledge which separates ‘sex’ and ‘race’ on an axis. She argues that as ‘woman’ and ‘black’ are separable yet homogenous categories on the axis, their intersection “shows us the absence of black women rather than their presence”. Apologies if you have already read Lugones and I am mansplaining but I find her work really interesting and thought she might be helpful for your research! Goodluck with the rest of your paper and congratulations on an excellent presentation.


Hey, Kathleen! Great job on your presentation. In a funny turn of events, my essays have both taken a turn towards tourism and dictatorship, respectively. It was an interesting presentation to listen to because unlike some of the other topics I felt I had a bit more context given my prior research! The part about Intourist was particularly interesting. The aspect of your presentation about minority cultures “clinging to their past” reminded me of some research I have done about the concept of “conservation refugees”. I saw your comment on my “constructing culture” post and wanted to respond to it here as it pertains to your pres! You talked about the threat to biodiversity and general environmental degradation in national parks and other nature enclosures as a result of the tourism industry. I have worked with this topic but from an indigenous rights perspective that I thought I would share with you! This is a bit from an essay I wrote ages ago:

Indigenous dispossession through protected enclosures is an ongoing process that has severely impacted indigenous development across the country. According to Cultural Survival Quarterly (2004), in the last 150 years, 12 percent of the world’s surface has been protected in the form of 100,000 enclosures. Of those lands, 50% encompass traditionally indigenous lands… In America, this percentage rises to 80% (McKay and Caruso 2004). National parks and other protected areas have made “conservation refugees” (ibid.) out of millions of indigenous peoples; national parks are not a colonial act of the past but a pillar of the enduring settler colonial structure of oppression.

Also: The final statement from the indigenous delegates in the closing ceremony of the Fifth World Parks Congress meeting in 2003 read “first we were dispossessed in the name of king and emperors, later in the name of State development and now in the name of conservation.”

I thought this might be interesting food for thought for you to check out for your long essay or further reading!

Revisiting Microhistory

I have never been one for deep-diving into primary sources such as letters and diaries much to my previous history professors’ lament. I have tended towards secondary sources or other forms of empirical data. It was therefore interesting to read Andrade article “Toward a Global Microhistory” in which he utilises both letters and journals to construct an analysis based on the presumed internal feelings and opinions of their authors. This is definitely an approach that I personally am not used to and am wary of as it read almost like a novel rather than a research/historiographical paper. The last time I really looked at microhistory was in HI2001 and this article brought me back to when I had to read The Return of Martin Guerre by Natalie Zemon Davis for Ana Del Campo’s tutorial. We had to read the full book and discuss it in class. Davis drew on personal accounts of the presiding judges as well as “registers of Parlementary Sentences” and “Notorial Contracts” to establish a sort of context for the trial that she was writing about and to gauge the reactions that the French peasants in her story might have. I haven’t thought about this piece since I read it and reading Andrade’s article on microhistory and his use of primary documents such as diaries and journals really reminded me of it. I think this type of history is interesting and definitely useful in some cases. Is it for me? No. Am I grateful it exists? Absolutely. It is fun to read and allows you to really immerse yourself in the environment in which the author is writing.


The Presentations deal with many of the aspects of transnational which we have discussed over the course of the semester. Transnational history is to a large extent revisionist, and this can be seen in presentations such as Will’s which focus on non-Western history or Laura’s on the nation. The presentations also display the opportunity afforded by transnational history to discuss alternative categories of time and space. For example key moment’s can be examined as transnational moments as George describes the 60s or Jemma and Jamie’s discussions of conferences. Spaces can also be transnational and the presentations show how climate can be a useful key to transnational history. Geography of course stretches across and beyond nations which form common dividing lines in the writing of history. As evident from Marion’s and George’s presentations climate is an already existing transnational category which can provide the historian with a transnational focus on events commonly studied in isolation. Transnational history appears not to be prescriptive as to a certain methodological approach and can incorporate areas from outside history such as anthropology. It also lends itself to a wide variety of techniques such as the analysis of maps and images as well as written sources. One aspect of transnational history which was evident in many of the presentations was the connection it has to experience. Focussing less on states and instead on a complex transnational world naturally leads one to consider how it was navigated and understood by individuals. One question which remains important for transnational history though, is that of extent. It is always interesting to consider how important and widely experienced these connections are as well as the simple fact of their existence.  

Final Blog

Hi Laura C. really excellent presentation, I love your structure and the way you utilized and organized sources to present a coherent and effective argument. The specificity too, in which you are placing your argument, I believe will serve you well and help establish a fleshed out argument for yourself. 

The only comment I’d recommend is in regard to possible obervations of how Vichy, and its fascism, interacted with the French colonial empire under its control. This could open up avenues of comparison to the Italian which may inspire rich analytical products. Of course this would expand the scope of the argument quite a bit, so more of a contemplation than a hard recommendation. 

Also, great presentation Laura H., really loved the structuring of your presentation and even for the un-initiated it was quite easy to follow your subject so extra commendations for that. 

The only recommendation I have is that the language section seems an especially ripe one to tackle, so extra research in that area may be well warranted and reap useful results. Other than that stellar job! 

Some Presentation Feedback

I really enjoyed going through everyone’s presentations, I am so impressed in how everyone came up with such unique and interesting topics! I also really loved this class, it not only challenged me academically, but also enlightened me about the possibility of transnational studies and how it can be applied in any area of history. And of course everyone in the class was amazing, as well as Bernhard and Milinda. I was always happy to go to class and excited to hear everyone’s opinions and ideas. 😀

Sophie: I really love your research topic! It is so unique and focusing on Czechoslovakia and South Africa combines two areas and a relationship that is overlooked within historical analysis. Your powerpoint is very well made and covers all the progress of your research project so far. It shows how much work you have done so far, and the questions at the end help show where you still want to go with your research. You seem to be in a really good place so far!

Your understanding of methodology is impressive, and I really like how you are applying your research to look at trends of the global world. Specifically when you mentioned the “transnational quality of human rights.” Being able to connect to a wider topic shows how well researched your project is at this point! 

Marion: Your topic is very interesting as well, as you said, very relevant to today’s climate crisis, as it can not be combated without a transnational effort. Being able to see the importance of transnational analysis years ago shows the continual need for transnational analysis throughout history and a transnational action today. Your presentation is very well organized and shows that you have prepared well so far. Your research questions are clear and you have a clear understanding of the historiography, as well as the gaps within existing research that you are able to cover within your research project. I also like how you address the integration of topics together, showing how you will bring a new way of thinking into your historical analysis. Your presentation shows that you have researched everything well so far and you have a clear understanding of the topic. 

Watching everyone’s presentation, I feel a bit of regret on my own, as mine was more focused on the topic rather than my research project. But I am still happy with mine, and watching everyone else’s presentations helps put in perspective what I need to get done to turn my essay in in two weeks. I am excited for the next couple weeks to finish working and turn in a completed project!

Final Blog Post

 I mistakenly commented on people’s presentations on their previous posts so I am now compiling them here in my final blog post! I have thoroughly enjoyed reading about everyone’s project progression and wish everyone the best of luck. 

George: Hi! I just watched your conference presentation and I am glad to see I am not the only one who decided to shift their leading question for the long essay. I particularly liked how you went over how you responded and adapted to your initial project proposal feedback – it’s quite helpful to substantively see how your project has evolved not only thematically but also methodologically. I’m glad you’re engaging with this subject as it is a newer field of history and its research utilizes methods across disciplines. I thoroughly enjoyed watching your conference presentation as I have a little bit of background environmental history and historiography (and I am a big fan of David Attenborough). I wrote a historiographical essay in HI2001 on William Beinart and Peter Coates’s Environment and History: The taming of nature in the USA and South Africa (1995) – while it has been a minute since I last picked it up I remember them discuss at length the role media and news played in disseminating environmental movements. They also do a good job of incorporating anthropological sources and first hand accounts into their cross-analysis. I’m not sure how much this will pertain to your research but if you find yourself stumped methodologically at any point, I think this book might be useful to draw inspiration from as they engage with similar methods you mention. I have encountered similar issues with a focus on the post-Soviet space as most anything deemed as progressive literature within this region is difficult to unearth. I have noticed the USSR had a tendency to destroy/conceal historical evidence and accounts that did not align with their views or political agenda… I wish I could say differently for the current Russian state but I have still found this to be an issue in interacting with modern Russian sources. I also think a non-human actor as your subject is a very interesting and refreshing way to go about this topic. Best of luck as you continue your research!

Laura: Hi! I really like how you are approaching a topic with lots of preexisting historiographical debates and applying a comparative methodology to build off of and establish a new perspective on the matter. I have been hesitant to commit to a comparative methodology for my own project but I have found your findings so far in your final conference presentation to be  quite comforting. I had previously not considered anti-semitism out of a German context, and expect that a comparison between Vichy France or Fascist Italy will yield fruitful analysis and results. While I do not have much background on Vichy France or Fascist Italy, I would recommend looking back on Marc Bloch along with Haupt and Kocka if you find yourself needing more research on the comparative methodology. I am currently reading them and think that they will definitely be helpful to refer back to for my personal project. I really like the idea of comparison as a means of understanding transnational phenomenon which I believe you mentioned in the second slide. I think you have a very new and fresh approach to this topic and am excited for your project to develop further. Best of luck!

Presentation Feedback

I really enjoyed looking through everyone’s presentations this week, they are all incredibly well done and reflected a super interesting mix of methods, styles and interests. Every project looks fascinating, and I have no doubt they are going to lead to incredible final pieces of work.


Marion- Your opening slides on the Anthropocene were fascinating, it’s a topic I have always associated with the last few decades and the way that you engaged with it to broaden its scope was done really well, both in terms of research, and the way you presented it as well.

You clearly have a very strong knowledge of your historiography, which will be invaluable in your final essay. In the same vein, your awareness of the defects of each branch of historiography you considered will no doubt allow you to weave the different narratives together in a way that is new and exciting! I think your project looks incredible, and I would love to see the final piece!

In terms of your research and sources. It looks like you have enough actors to write a really erudite piece already. The one potential thing I would say (though you have probably thought about this already) is that looking at your source list, it is almost entirely localised within the geographic areas of the revolutions which you want to study. Revolutionary discourses are arguably a global phenomenon during this time and there may be writers in conflicts such as the Latin American wars of Independence, the United Irishmen’s Rebellion or the Serbian Revolution, who engage with climate and human impact on the environment in a revolutionary context. More excitingly still, there may be nexuses where ideas from all these external areas meet to shape the intellectual currents in your states of study.

This may well not be a route you want to go down, but it’s the only piece of advice I could really give to what was an incredibly coherent presentation and a really cool project.

Jemma- Firstly, I really want to commend you on how good I thought your presentation was. It was incredibly clear, concise and informative.

Whilst I haven’t done much research on Eurocentrism in women’s organisations, I have done a decent amount relating to peace movements which has led to a little overlap, and I think you have found a really important research gap. Additionally, the way you identify Eurocentrism as a key feature, using images and maps in conjunction with secondary work, was really effective at getting your arguments across. If you were not already planning on doing so, I would recommend discussing the usage of images in your essay/project with Milinda and Bernhard.

Looking at your conference map, I noticed that as well as excluding Asia, Africa and South America, there were also no conferences in much of Eastern Europe. I wonder women’s movements in this ‘semi peripheral’ area could be productive for your research? Though it may well also be outside the scope of what you want to do.

Additionally, my research on women’s peace movements so far has identified class as a really important aspect which characterises peace movements, their aims and their members. If you have access to attendance lists for some of these conferences, I think it would be super interesting to apply an intersectional methodology looking at both race and class and how these shaped different groups.

Overall, though, I envy the coherence with which you have put together your arguments. I learned a decent amount about structuring an argument just from watching your presentation! It looks like it will be an incredibly strong and focussed piece of work. Really good luck!

Sophie- Your presentation had by far the most surprising title of any of them, but after watching it, your argument really made sense! How you managed to spot the connections between South Africa and Czechoslovakia is completely beyond me, but it makes for a super interesting and original perspective.

As projects go, yours seemed in super impressive shape. Strong research questions, coupled with a large primary source base and a decent chunk of secondary reading.

The one thing I saw in your research that I thought I could add to was your further question on whether the Czechoslovakian government’s solidarity with South Africa was fake. Whilst a fascinating question by itself, I would suggest that it could be really interesting to explore whether Czechoslovakian resistance movements’ solidarity with South Africa was genuine as well, and if not, what motivations underpinned their employment of anti-apartheid rhetoric.

The reason that I make this point is that in a recent conversation with Malaka Shwaikh, she mentioned how Palestinian dissidents were consciously avoiding the appropriation of BLM rhetoric to avoid stealing the limelight from them in an act of ‘fake solidarity’.

To be honest though, it seems like you are in a really good spot in terms of preparing for this final essay. You already have enough to write a very interesting essay studying a very unorthodox pairing of countries in a very productive way!

Presentation Feedback

I can’t believe this is the last blog post of the semester! I loved watching everyone’s presentations. It’s been so wonderful to see how projects have grown from our initial brainstorming sessions. Making presentations and having discussions with classmates have really helped me in honing into essential questions for my project. And, I’ve read some really interesting articles per recommendations. I hope some of the following comments do the same for others!

Comment on Jemma’s Presentation –

Hi Jemma! Great presentation. Your use of images and mapping made it very engaging and allowed you draw conclusions on the women attending the conferences with support from readings. I found it very interesting that you noted recent scholar’s opinions on the All-Asian Women’s Conference and formed your own conclusion on its importance. You made a very strong and well thought out claim that ‘it was an important and significant challenge to western feminism and western dominated transnational organizations, especially through demonstrating women’s agency and how this affected western attitudes towards non-western women.’ Have you read ‘Suyatin Kartowiyono: A Nationalist Leader of the Indonesian Women’s Movement’ by Susan Blackburn? It analyzes the life of a leader of the women’s movement in Indonesia. It might raise some questions for you on the leaders of these women’s organizations and their intentions on contributing to and leading women’s movements. I skimmed the first few pages and if not helpful for your project, it may just be an interesting read! Here’s the link:

I’ve loved seeing how your project has developed this semester!

Comment on George’s Presentation –

Hi George!

Your constructive criticism of your previous assignments is very inspiring! It’s really helpful to be able to reflect on if an assignment actually aligns with the ethos of the historiography. Although we are doing history, cultural anthropology can lend a helpful hand to understanding how different peoples respond to climate crisis and take political and social action. It might be interesting to consider how the environmental movements affected something like literature. Ecocriticism, though holding a longer history, boomed during the 70s to address environmental justice. You could look at texts like Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring. Here are two readings that I find interesting:

Introduction: Ecocriticism and Environmental History

Hannes Bergthaller

“No More Eternal than the Hills of the Poets”: On Rachel Carson, Environmentalism, and the Paradox of Nature

Hannes Bergthaller

Ecocriticism could help you analyze the rhetorical power and strategies of these environmental movements and their actors. I can’t wait to see how it all turns out!

Presentations feedback

I was really impressed by the quality of all the presentations, which have given me a lot to think about to refine my own work. Here are my comments on three of them.

Georges – Why and how did similar environmental movements develop in the East and West of Europe in the late Twentieth Century?

I really enjoyed your presentation, which was well-structured, clear and honest about your questions and difficulties. Overall, I think that your project has gained so much strength since we discussed it during the unconference.

I like the way in which you manage to contextualise Chernobyl within the Global Sixties: not only does this bring a socio-political perspective which – as you rightly say – greatly complements your initial emotional approach and argumentation, but it also provides a very interesting outlook on the period. I had never thought of seeing it as a series of environmental disasters and of (non)reactions by governments and activists! Has this also provided a way out of your fear of being too Eurocentric?

Methodologically speaking, I think that using micro-histories is very strong. I would nevertheless try to connect them to transnational activist movements in order to depart even more from the individual and national analysis of the impacts of governments’ non-reactions to environmental disasters, however similar they may be across borders.

Lastly, I totally sympathise with your struggle about having to guess the emotional impacts of disasters: I encountered a similar issue as I was trying to understand how fears caused by El Nino events led to wider diffusions of climatic theories. Although I am sure they played a role, I can’t really prove it, so I am only going to use those fears as an element of background.

Looking forwards to hearing/reading more about the development of your work!

Sophie – A transnational liberation: the anti-apartheid movement and the making of human rights in Czechoslovakia and South Africa

I really learned a lot listening to your presentation. As the (little) history I have ever learned about either South Africa or Czechoslovakia has always been absolutely separated, I was compelled by these unexpected connections!

Like for Georges, I think that one of the greatest strengths of your project is that you manage to discuss these connections within a wider context and make some very interesting points about their relations to anti-imperialist struggles.

I am impressed by the diversity of the sources you are using and your analysis of Fordburg Fighter: the journey of an MK volunteer is very insightful. Taking a micro-history approach through memoirs to complement the analysis of high politics is very well-thought: the individual and lived experience perspective usually richly connects processes and ideas otherwise perceived as totally separated.

As I am myself studying the transnational circulation and appropriation of discourses, you have given me a lot to reflect on!

I would be very interested in reading your finished paper!

Will – A Civilization’s Destruction: Examining Rapa Nui and its interactions with the exterior world

Your project looks both fascinating and very complex. If I had to study an entire civilisation over such a long time-period, I would not know where to start from…This is the object of my first question: on what aspects of the Rapa Nui’s civilisation are you focusing (language, art, livelihoods, …)? I would be curious to know how you chose them and what type of primary sources you are using.

My second question relates to the scope of your project: I might not have understood well, but are you studying Rapa Nui for itself or are you using it as a case study to make an argument about imperial domination or the impacts and resistance to colonialism?

I was also interested in the argument you make that labelling Rapa Nui people as ecociders discredits their culture and precipitates its disappearance. I look forwards to learning more about it.

The Finish is Near: Presentation Feedback

It seems strange that this is the last blog post for this module! I have really enjoyed forming, adjusting, and applying my ideas and research towards my final essay. I found that creating my presentation was really helpful to start piecing together my research and analysis ahead of writing. It helped give me a feeling of the structure, and also get a better idea of where the gaps in my research are. I’ve realised, including from some comments from Milinda, that my essay could benefit from more primary sources from non-Western women directly, and further research and engagement with global intellectual history – aspects I will be looking into more in the coming days.

I really enjoyed watching all the presentations, and it was really interesting to see all the examples of ways that transnational and comparative approaches could be used and applied to different contexts, times, and topics. After watching them, a few thoughts sprung to mind which I have highlighted below.

First of all, George. I really enjoyed watching your presentation, and found it really clear to understand and well structured. I think taking a more socio-political approach rather than a more emotive one is a good idea and leads to a more grounded approach. This said, I think that this does not mean you cannot include some more emotive aspects in places.

In terms of primary sources, I think newspapers are a really good option. With my research, I have found they provide both insights into what issues and news were prominent, and how they were covered and portrayed. As well as the New York Times which you mentioned, are there perhaps any publications or newsletters from any of the movements themselves? These could maybe, for example, give more detailed information to their goals, policies, and members.

Furthermore, you mentioned mapping, and I really recommend this. I did this with some locations of conferences for my project, and found the visual aspect really useful as an alternative way of understanding the spread of locations. I know you mentioned doing it to ensure you have covered both the East and West, but perhaps this could also lead to other insights, such as if any regions had a particularly large number of environmental movements developing.

Avery, it was really exciting to see how your project has been developing since we worked together at the unconference! I found your presentation really interesting and also quite relevant to mine: a lot of my focus is also on the ‘double subaltern’, including their attempts to gain their own agency, and I have also been engaging with gender and postcolonial theory. I think you have so many ideas, aspects you want to look at, and theories to engage with. As I have also done quite a lot of research and work towards subaltern women in particular, you have reminded me of the usefulness of engaging with Orientalism and Said, for example, more directly.

When looking at how nations who have experienced famine responded differently to hunger strikes, I am not sure what sort of sources you have so far, but one possibility for primary sources could be women’s journals. These are a key source that I have been using, and while they aren’t always from the locations you are focusing on, I have found they often report on various issues around the world, especially those publications of international and transnational organisations. Some examples of journals from national organisations and movements could include Equal Rights, Common Cause, and Stri-Dharma (although I have had translation issues with the latter), while some international examples include Pax International and Jus Suffragii.

Finally Sigi – I really enjoyed watching your presentation, and found it very well structured. You conveyed information really well, both verbally and visually, and as someone that knows minimal about Rìo de la Plata, I found it easy to follow along and understand. I think your use of SPSS is really innovative, and from what you have said it sounds like you are gaining some interesting pieces of data and analysis. In particular, I think the links of the shipping trades to the anti-English and anti-Spanish movements is an interesting research area and point of analysis, and one that stood out to me during your presentation. It really shows the significance and impact of these trading connections, and their wider implications in the world.

I hope these comments may be somewhat useful, and hope the rest of your research and writing goes well!

Presentation Feedbacking

Marion: I am so excited to see you’re talking about the Anthropocene. I discussed it in my short essay and found it so interesting, but I couldn’t really encompass it into my essay, so I am very happy you found a use for it. Furthermore, you have really opened my eyes about the actual concept. From my research, I believed it was only a recent phenomenon, especially since many modern scholars now consider the Anthropocene started in 1945 with the ”Great Acceleration”, but you have shown that people thought this way much before, so thank you for that clarification.

Your research questions are also so incredibly interesting, and I would really like to read your project once it has finished. Your exploration of transatlantic circulation is a topic that looks very cool, and from your many slides on historiography, it is clear you have done your research. I think this is going to become such a great project once it has finished! 

Laura H R: Firstly, thank you for commenting on my presentation, it was really nice to see that I not only engaged you, but made you feel less alone in your roadblocks, such as question changes etc. I think that is what these presentations are all about: to illustrate to each other the challenges and problem-solving skills we have had to employ in this unique module.

Furthermore, I am glad someone else is discussing these Eastern European countries like Ukraine and Belarus; visions of identity and nationhood have certainly cropped up in my research, and I am excited to see what comes of your work on this topic. As for the postmodernist approach, I am really intrigued by this, but also completely support you on it. Your postmodernist approach best captures very sensitive issues of “nation” and “identity”, especially on a transnational/trans-linguistic (?) scale.

Final Thoughts & Presentation Feedback

Looking back over this past semester, it’s crazy (and quite scary) to think about how my ideas and conceptions of transnational and global history have grown and how influenced I’ve been by the readings we have done and the conversations/discussions we’ve had as a group. Considering this is my last ever (!) History module at St Andrews, I’m feeling quite emotional.  

I never thought I would be doing a project on Czechoslovakia and South Africa – two places I had very little knowledge about before this semester. However, I feel this reflects the breadth of literature I’ve been exposed to in this class, and I am so glad to have found an area that I find so interesting and exciting – particularly because it is so new to me. In terms of where I go from here, putting together my presentation certainly helped with concretely structuring my argument and pinpointing the questions I still need answered. I’m looking forward to hearing feedback that will help as I keep writing my final essay.  

In terms of presentations – I was blown away. They were all so reflective, well researched and interesting. What made it even better was seeing how people’s ideas had developed from that first presentation in Week 6.  

Claire – your presentation was so great. Your close reading of primary sources was really insightful, particularly the attention you played to time and how this reflected whether women worked etc. Your comments on identity and the ambiguity of the term reminded me of a reading I came across with my own research into solidarity movements such as Solidarnosc. I would recommend having a look at Magdalena Grabowska’s “Bringing the Second World In: Conservative Revolution(s), Socialist Legacies, and Transnational Silences in the Trajectories of Polish Feminism.” This deals with the differing types of feminism that existed in the time of state socialism in Poland – and how a lot of this work was left unfinished after the fall of the USSR and the transition of Poland to a market economy meant the return of a patriarchal society. I think this links a lot to the idea of memory and identity, how these memories of experiences of feminism and female activism in Poland prior to migration may have remained with migrating women – and how did this impact their experiences in the places they migrated to? Just a thought! Overall, I think you’ve got a great project brewing and I would love to read the final piece!  

Laura CL – great use of historiography and this was definitely an area I knew nothing about, so I learned so much!  The idea of a hybridisation of fascism was really interesting, particularly in relating to how ideas and spread and then manipulated for a particular use. Your comments on how Vichy France was not a stable political bloc really stuck out to me – would you then say that antisemitism at this time in fascist countries was a nation-building/nation strengthening exercise? Was formulating a common enemy in the form of the Jewish people a way to solidify their nationhood? I’d be interested to know what you think! Excited to see where your project goes in the next two weeks.  

George – I think your project has developed so well since we last heard about it. I really liked your reflections on your development and taking a less emotive but more socio-political approach. I’m also looking at the global sixties to an extent and can agree the Routledge handbook is great! Since your topic links a little to mine in terms of activism, I’d recommend taking a look at Kacper Szulecki, “Hijacking Ideas: Human Rights, Peace, and Environmentalism in Czechoslovak and Polish Dissident Discourse.” I used it for the human rights section but the bit about environmentalism is really interesting because it talks about how environmental issues were a way to unite activists across the Eastern Bloc – so you really get that transnational aspect with how different groups worked with each other to formulate a “universal” concept of environmentalism that could be used as a political force. Best of luck with your project!  

The Grand Finale: Presentation Feedback

Going through the Teams, I really enjoyed watching my classmate’s virtual presentations. With our individual backgrounds, I found the presentations super interesting and diverse. Here are my thoughts on three: 

George: Why and how did similar Environmental Movements Develop in the East and West of Europe in the Late Twentieth Century? 

I thought your presentation was well organized and you have a clear vision for your further research. While preliminary, your argument makes sense and provides interesting answers for the similarities between environmental protests movements in the Sixties. I especially liked how you connect the globalization of society and the globalized distribution of information with protest factors, such as disillusionment with the government and notions of parenthood. 

One recommendation would be to focus on specific transnational movements rather than individual nations. I feel this would connect more with your thesis as you argue for a more broad global perspective, especially with the global impacts of environmental crises, not limited by national boundaries. 

Overall, great work and I can’t wait to learn more about your final paper! 

Will: A Civilization’s Destruction: Examining Rapa Nui and Its Interactions with the Exterior World 

Since we were partnered during our first brainstorming session, it has been wonderful to see your project progress over the course of the semester. I think you have done a great job finding sources and stitching together the story considering the narratives pervasive about ‘Easter Island’ in Western society. While I appreciate the three-section outline, I feel you are missing a consistent thread of argumentation to weave through your essay. 

For example, how does this differ from other types of colonialism/indigenous interaction with the outside world? It is already well known that contact with the West often led to degradation and assimilation that destroys cultural elements and decreases indigenous populations. Is there a way to connect/compare this to other indigenous groups that were devastated by outsider contact? Is there something makes them distinct? What is the larger argument here? 

I think you are definitely going in the right direction and hope you find these comments helpful!

Avery: Female Dissent in the British Empire: Understanding Ideologies of Resistance for the Double Subaltern

This is a great presentation that aims to compare hunger strikes and female agency in Ireland and India. As both felt the impact of British imperialism, this is very interesting study that integrates themes of post-colonial theory, Orientalism, feminist thought, and notions of body autonomy. I liked how you develop these ideas from your short essay and that feedback to understand connected histories of resistance. 

As you mentioned in your presentation, I think it would be interesting to bring in 

Expanding scope by going outside of India and Ireland, for instance to give examples of other regions affected by British colonial rule or imperialism. You can still focus on this Ireland-India comparison, but it also might be worthwhile to contrast this with non-colonial female hunger strikes, like the American suffragette movement, to highlight the aspects brought about by British imperialism or colonial oppression. 

I think your topic is great, I really enjoyed watching your presentation, and I hope this feedback helps!

(Maybe) Final Blogpost: Reflections on my Research and Watching Presentations

Personal reflections

Thank you Laura for your kind words about my presentation, you have helped me re-frame my thoughts on Glos Polek! I loved your insights related to the Cold War. This question you posed: for women in Poland, to what extent were Polish female identity and Polish women’s attitudes to migration shaped by Cold War political tensions? Will probably inspire the angle of my dissertation topic, honestly! I feel like this is a fascinating subtopic. 

Also thank you for the reading suggestion, I will look into it! Your comments have made me realize that within my study of Polish women, I have been focusing a lot on the theoretical and interdisciplinary aspects of the field, such as social reproduction and sociology. But in this focus, I may have failed to zoom out properly onto the wider history and tensions of the time that informed the experiences of Polish women. I think I definitely need to zoom out to properly zoom back in if that makes sense? I also want to implement some of the comments on my presentations from Dr Struck into my long essay such as how my research enhances the field, changes, and challenges the chronology with regard to gender and migration. I feel like I have recently been trying to fit my research into the current direction of the field rather than making my own additions, so I will work on that. 

Comments on other presentations

George – I loved your presentation on transnational environmental movements starting with the global sixties. I found the structure of your presentation and the confidence with which you spoke very engaging. I’m impressed by how slowly and comprehensively you spoke, this is something I struggle with! I was impressed by your honesty in reflections on the project proposal, specifically how you will take a more socio-political than emotive approach. I know in my own project there is so much interdisciplinary potential, as in your case it’s anthropological reading. So I understand your dilemma of using different fields and then bringing them back to the study of history. I also learned and considered a lot that I hadn’t before, such as how environmental disasters are a transnational rather than national issue, and how motherhood was related to reasons for protesting. I’m so excited to see where your essay takes you!

Avery – I was looking forward to your presentation after our discussions in the unconference, and your presentation on female dissent in the British Empire: understanding ideologies of resistance for the double subaltern did not disappoint! I also engaged with postcolonial theory and subaltern studies in my short essay! I definitely agree that even if you are doing a case study on Ireland and India that you should read about different places to understand connected histories. The discussion on understanding hunger strikes as either violent versus non-violent forms of protest really interested me. I’m all for breaking out of black and white binaries and investigating the gray area, as you mentioned. I was wondering what are the types of primary sources you are going to use, and if there are many to choose from? Will they be personal accounts, government or organization documents, etc? I’m eager to hear all about this!

More project thoughts – how much is enough? 

As I progress with research for my project and prepare for the presentation next week, I’ve been deliberating with deciding between a research proposal and a traditional long essay. Much of this decision making is dictated by how many sources I am able to find – and whether this conflates to enough resources to write a 4000-word essay. Comparisons or studies which discuss Czechoslovakia and South Africa are rare to find – understandably, since this is where I have discerned a gap in historiography that I hope to fill. However, primary sources have also been difficult to find – particularly on the Czechoslovakian side. Though I have managed to find some great archive sources, I have been concerned that this might not be enough for an essay. So, I have been asking myself the question recently – how many sources are necessary? To what extent does this need to be balanced with original analysis? To answer these questions I have been looking to other journal articles as an example. 

Many other articles that discuss anti-apartheid in reference to Eastern European countries take more of a general approach – including sources from many different Eastern European states in order to provide a broader overview of the Eastern bloc’s involvement in anti-apartheid. Others focus more on using strictly state/government sources and conducting an examination of bilateral relations between Czechoslovakia and South Africa. However, it is clear to see from these examples that sources in this area are far and few between. Nevertheless, I think the benefit of my research plan – which is to study not just bilateral relations but also grassroots activism and dissident movements in Czechoslovakia that arose during the anti-apartheid movement means that I will have more sources to work with – particularly if I include political writings by Czechoslovak dissidents that utilise the human rights rhetoric that is presence in anti-apartheid writing. Thus, I think much of the connections to be made between sources will come from viewing them with a closer eye and drawing similarities in language, for example. In terms of growing my source base, I have also managed to find many great sources looking through the footnotes of Tom Lodge and Milan Oralek’s “Fraternal Friends: South African Communists and Czechoslovakia, 1945–89”, one of the only articles that places a transnational lens of Czechoslovak-South African relations. This has helped a lot with growing my source base.  

So, for now, I think I will crack on with analysing the sources I have and planning for a long essay. Part of my apprehension in doing a research proposal is that I do not think there actually are a substantial number of sources I would be able to find had I access to the right databases or time to translate that would make a dramatic difference to my analysis. I hope that once I present my findings in next week’s presentation, I might receive some advice on whether my current research lends enough to a full-length essay.