Firstly, I want to apologise for the alliterative title. Sometimes, I just can’t resist those basic linguistic turns that we were taught about oh so long ago, in primary school.
Secondly, please forgive me if this sounds too like Douglas’ most recent post. The ideas had been brewing before hand, I just hadn’t quite managed to get them down on paper yet. (or, more realistically, “on screen” [is that the suitable alternative to paper?]) Let’s say this could be posited as my own response to Douglas’ blog post, where he talks about his brain entering “transnational mode”.
I have to agree, and say that I’ve found exactly the same. Be it in my other module – Russia – Real and Imagined: Ideas, Identity and Culture, or just in general life, I’ve found that I’ve become attuned to seeing the “transnational” where before I would have glossed over these possible connections.
It’s become somewhat of a routine for me to bake at weekends. Over the last semester, I’ve looked forward to spending some down time away from the readings and my laptop, and creating something edible. Often, I’ve given the product away, to bless a local family. But all this baking, as well as my re-discovered love for the TV series, Masterchef Australia, has really lit a flame when it comes to conversations and connections about food.
Like Roger, I find myself fascinated by food history. How is it, that one day someone decided to whisk egg whites, and add some sugar, and create something called meringue? What about, the initial creation of alcohol? Was that really just someone who tried to make bread, and it went a bit wrong or they left it too long, and then decided to drink the fermented yeast-y liquid?
Throughout Roger’s blog posts, and the latest, “Transnational Tuber” is no different, he has spoken about the special nature of food, and the development of family recipes. Mostly, this is evident in how he talks about the unique blends of spices that form “garam masala” – a blend that is held close to the chest of family members, and yet treasured through many generations. These connections, the way cuisines have travelled (authentically, at least, rather than the street-corner-knock-off attempts), are just one of the many ways in which our world is connected. Perhaps, if I’d have been truly in the “food business” at the beginning of the semester, I would have chosen my project topic around the history of tea – but I fear that opens too many cans of worms that I wouldn’t be able to control them all.
In my latest piece of coursework for my Russian module, I’ve been looking at the influence of Russian émigré literature on Western perceptions – and I can’t escape the transnational. It also feels, at times, as if I’m reading with a dual purpose – because these people were also some of the first 20th century refugees. I really shouldn’t be surprised by now…but everything is quite remarkably, interconnected.
I’ll end with this – I’m so thankful that I stuck with my gut and chose MO3351 when my original module was cancelled last semester. It may have looked like an immense challenge (and, I’m not going to argue that it isn’t), but the practices I’ve learned so far (and I’m not even finished yet) have changed the way I study and read history, and changed it for the better.
We often talk about “lenses” when it comes to historiographical approaches. In this case, MO3351 has successfully placed a filter over my reading glasses, helping to identify connections, and informing my analysis of material. In such an interconnected world, this can only be a good thing.