Confession up front: I am an analogue boy, i.e. growing up in the 1970s and 1980s. And I do remember sending postcards. How exciting was that. Travelling to a new place, an unknown place, then – out of sense of sharing a happy moment and memory – one postcard (often the first) went to my granny. This was important to me. She was born in 1913 in northern Germany, straight into one war, came out of the second alive…with children but no husband, scraping by, making ends meet was tough. So, Granny never travelled much or far. But whenever I could from far or not too far, I would write that old-fashioned postcard, quick on the go, 3-4 sentences.

Now, these are different times today. Postcards? Long gone. Today, Granny may be on Snapchat, WhatsApp? There is a slight nostalgia…postcards, after all, would make a great object for global history. I will bring some along from my Esperantists soon. Stay tuned. Speaking of which…global history. Along with transnational history that is the title of our seminar. So far, so good, 3 weeks in, what have we learned. All students were very up front (up front) saying that the field was pretty much new territory. Here and there a lecture, other than that transnational land was wide open. So after three weeks including reading Sebastian Conrad (What is Global History? and some of his Globalisation and the Nations), Sugata Bose (A Hundred Horizons), Jan Rüger’s OXO article, the classic AHR 2006 conversation on Transnational History we plunged the students into the deep end. Post cards to granny from transnational land. And here we go….

Dear Granny, greetings from wintery and snowy St Andrews. This semester I am doing a module on transnational and global history (yes, I know it is a mouthful). But let me explain. …

…You would love it, you get to speak and read about the connections between countries– it treats the world as interconnected rather than as independent nations separate entities. It allows for research to be done across borders, categorization, or institution– the options are countless. Best wishes, C.

…Transnational history, unlike global history, does not require a wholly global perspective but can use selected examples from a specific region to illustrate a wider trend or development. Transnational history requires collaborative work, in a diplomatic sense, as it is an interdisciplinary perspective that utilises case studies from specific fields to create a patchwork of connectivity and interaction. Connectivity, unlike in connected history, is not a central aspect but is uncovered where it allows for the wider topic to be examined across a micro and macro level. Best wishes, D.

…Transnational History is seeking to make connections; crossing geographical boundaries and following people, goods and more wherever they went. It’s an approach to history that concerns itself with the journey, rather than focusing more on the destination. Many historians continue to debate its definition, and so you won’t be able to find one in the Oxford dictionary yet (or, at least not one that everyone agrees on…). Best wishes, H.

… Transnational and global history aims to move beyond seeing national histories as separate entities but as part of a wider connected global context. Nations of course play an important part in history but what is potentially more interesting is how the connections and flows that take occur between them. It also allows for greater a greater focus on regionality and tries to move away from homogenised views surrounding certain states and regions which takes into account the differences that occur in smaller groups and areas. Best wishes, A.

…We are taking a different view on history, better than what you or I might be used to. The point is to look closely at interactions between groups beyond national borders. We see how important communities, languages, social interaction and economic change (to name a few!) are in discussing both the nation and the globe. The collaboration of our group is key in bringing together different points of view and building some new transnational histories. Best wishes, M.

…basically we’re looking at the movement of historical forces between places, cultures, and states and how that influenced them. This could be people, or things, or ideas. So take Tigers, if we look at Manu Tuilagi this is a lad who’s entire family is geared towards making absolute sporting monsters. They raise their sons with sport in mind and they are then recruited to play in England. So what is the mentality of this family? What are their mentalities towards England, and sport, and the history which English sport has played for their community? If we could look at the history of the Tuilagi family, could the focus on rugby be a cultural institution for Pacific Islanders to escape poverty and gain a voice on the global stage, and how does this effect impact their lives and their community? These are the sort of arguments we could focus on. Love you Grandma, up the Tigers … R.

…Transnational and global historians examine how different peoples, ideas, and things make their way into disparate spaces around the world. They also look at the connections and relationships that exist between their objects of analysis. Transnational and global history can be done by using a variety of different approaches, and it is not easy to pin down an exact definition. Best wishes, G.

…transnational history really is about the approaches of the historian in question, and the way they build a historical picture of their chosen subject/topic. Its freeing in this sense as it negates boundaries and limitations imposed by national history etc and making connections across these boundaries. the aim is not a comprehensive ‘history of the globe’ but draw connections and follow flows of commodities and people across the world. Best wishes, C.

…it’s about people, their lives, the things they eat and cook and how they all come together! Think about it this way, there are more things in the world, and throughout history that are connected than you would usually think. It’s about the stories that they have, and how those stories aren’t just from one place and time. It may seem confusing! but I hope it makes sense. Best wishes, R.

….Transnational history is the movement and circulation of people, commodities and ideas across different places around the world. These can also cut across other boundaries such as, class, gender, race, education and religion. Best wishes, K.

Dear Granny, greeting from transnational land…..
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