Though there isn’t a set topic or required readings for this week, I have been thinking on the previous discussions and how I would apply this to my own interests and potential project proposals. I have found the prospect daunting for many of the reasons discussed in previous weeks readings. The potential to “bite off more than I can chew” with a broad topic or becoming so locked in with a theme that it loses relevance in the broader picture. last week’s contrasting between micro and macro history and the respective problems therein have inspired me somewhat to pursue a larger topic.
Particularly of interest the Linden reading on Labour History encourages me to think that it is possible to explore a large topic, in my case I am considering doing the history of freedom to information, in the form of encyclopaedias, Wikipedia, museums etc. My question remains on how to do this, and where to draw the parameters. Is it so broad that it is too ambitious to fit into 4000 words, even once condensed to a few key features? Would the focus on encyclopaedias be too Eurocentric? The element of selection in methodology and indeed topic itself is still a persisting challenge.
Andrade’s biographical approach was indeed a fascinating and enjoyable read and would provide a much-needed context to intention behind resources and ideas – eg the individuals who write Wikipedia articles and what motivates them. There is a series of interviews with a man behind thousands (mainly biographical articles ironically) who speaks about his mother living in Soviet Russia and what it meant to her to be able to access information without restriction.
I would deem this as transnational/global history, just given the nature of information and books and often the intention behind them. There is an example I learned of in my course last semester of a library on Minecraft that was made to help people in nations with heavy censorship access restricted and banned information and books. I think these examples build a fascinating image of access to knowledge and information especially beyond the nation, which often as a system seeks to limit it. The nation would still exist in the research, but insofar as the topic itself is not restricted to the barriers.
Or perhaps a better approach would be to take one thing and explore the full reaches of that, much like Linden’s analogy of the tree branches spreading throughout history. For example, following the path of the encyclopaedia, both as concept and development throughout time. This would show the intentions behind it in both its origin, construction and continuation.
There will always be a concern that something important or interesting is being overlooked in any mode of exploration or methodology, but from the reading and discussion thus far it would appear that that is a side effect of transnational history and indeed what makes it so worthwhile. There is always another avenue to explore and another connection to be drawn.