In response to the presentations on Tuesday (all of which were centered around fascinating topics, I might add), I just wanted to post my thoughts about a few ideas that stuck out in my mind.

I was very taken by Harriet’s approach of separately identifying and analyzing the local, regional, national, and global with regards to her project about the Documenta exhibitions. In reading for this module all semester, I have never come across someone who has separated these different levels with such clarity, and particularly the use of a visual aid helped draw these divisions in my head. Transnational history, as the name suggests, mostly focuses on the “links and flows” (to borrow a phrase from Saunier and Iriye) across borders, i.e., movement at international level, and so one could very easily become caught up with the ‘big picture’ developments. But it is crucial to remember that while developments take place on the global or transnational level, there is actively happening simultaneously at the national, regional, and local levels, and thus this activity should still be taken into consideration.

Many times, the phenomenon being examined at the international level would not make sense without reference to the other levels: to take an example from Andrew’s project, the transnational occurrence of bootlegging across the Detroit River would not make sense without considering both the US national law of Prohibition as well as the demand for alcohol in Detroit specifically (the local level) that persisted after the law went into effect. Sophie’s project examining British education reforms in India also requires an examination of the developments both at the local and international levels as well: one cannot understand how effective the reforms of Macaulay and co. were without examining the individual schools in India that took on their proposed changes.

We all will most likely have to consider the circumstances of the different levels directly or indirectly during our projects, but I was pleased that Harriet had dealt with them so directly, as it has given me a greater awareness and understanding of them. As a result, I hope that I now possess a stronger ability to locate and place incidents or trends into either the local, regional, national, and international levels, and that I can use this in putting together my own project in the coming month.

I hope that we will continue to use the blog and converse with each other about our projects in the coming months, as I‘ve certainly benefitted from many ideas such as this latest one that I’ve gotten from the rest of y’all. To borrow the words of Lux and Cook quoting the father of Edmund Verney, it is useful ‘to study men as well as books.’ We learn as much from discussing topics with each other as we do from our readings, and I hope that we will not lose this source of interaction in the next month. I will certainly continue to post updates on the blog of my project, and I hope to read some of yours as well.



Akira Iriye and Pierre-Yves Saunier, The Palgrave Dictionary of Transnational History (Basingstoke, 2009). Print.

David S. Lux and Harold J. Cook, ‘Closed Circles or Open Networks? Communicating at a distance during the scientific revolution’, History of Science 36 (1998): 186.

Conference Presentations: Afterthoughts