Definitions are tough. ‘Transnational’, ‘Global’, ‘Shared’, ‘Comparative’… the list goes on. However, Sebastian Conrad’s book Globalisation and the Nation in Imperial Germany has enlightened me on the differences between these terms. More than that, this book, particularly its introduction, has offered me a new perspective on global history. (I have decided to focus on Conrad’s chapters more closely for the purpose of this seminar.)

The previous readings I’ve done in the last two weeks highlighted that global history was a result from an increasing movement away from nationalism and nation history. Conrad’s introduction offers a different view, and he argues that instead of globalisation being the result of this move away from nationalism, nationalism and globalisation are ‘dependent’ on each other. Transnational links between other countries, such as increased trade, increased industrialisation, and social and spatial mobility (within and out of one’s country) led to a more transnational or global network. With this global network becoming more established (also due to Imperial expansion), countries find the need to differentiate themselves from other countries. Moreover, with increased migration, the threat of ‘Polonisation’ (increased migration from Poland into Germany) led to a need for a more established nationality in Germany.1

Obviously, this is not an extensive list for all the reasons for creation of the nation state from Conrad’s article, but this was a few key points that I picked out. My take on this article, is not necessarily a critique but it does allow me to question all of my previously learnt knowledge. Since taking MO1007, we learnt that the ‘birth of the modern world’ was increased communication transnationally (due to the invention of the printing press), but I never truly comprehended the extent to which this increased communication and transnational mobility affected internal affairs and thus, the creation of the ‘nation state’. I always thought the opposite: globalisation was the result of the break away from the nation state! This introductory offered a new perspective for me, which I thoroughly enjoyed!

1 Sebastian Conrad, Globalisation and the Nation in Imperial Germany (Cambridge, 2010), pp. 1-27.

Globalisation: a result of Nationalism? Or vice versa?