Sugata Bose’s A Hundred Horizons chapter and Sebastian Conrad’s introduction chapter in Globalisation and the Nation in Imperial Germany were both extremely helpful to ground me in the early stages of my brainstorming for the final essay/project topic. I found that evaluating their tone and form was extremely helpful. I admired how both chapters presented agendas and explained the way in which Bose and Conrad will prove the transnational phenomena they researched. Bose’s definition of his work as a “series of microhistories” that create “‘slices’ of histories” which ultimately allow: “bringing together the histories of mobile peoples and some of the commodities with which their fortunes were linked, the larger history will be more richly, and truly, narrated” (79) intrigued me. The specific examples he employs such as indentured servitude, pearls, oil, cloves, and trade locations like Zanzibar compellingly humanized large (sometimes overwhelming) topics like trade, economics, and capital. This altogether worked to create the desired narrative, demonstrate the effects of twentieth-century economic depression, and prove the capitalist nature of the East. This style made me think about how I could use micro-histories I research to highlight a larger narrative in my final essay. 

Conrad employed a similar vocabulary to Bose related to labor with the use of “alienation” and focusing on human migration, class, and economy. This careful employment of specialized terms that aligned with the theme of the work demonstrated to me how you can direct the reader closer to the narrative you want to push as a historian and writer by using informative, thematic terms. I also admired how Conrad outlined in the introduction that each chapter will work with different locations, and this includes places outside of Germany like South America (22), and that he is not afraid to say what the work is not. By declaring that the book does not demonstrate a “subaltern perspective” (22) in the introduction, readers are not left to speculate over what the work has to offer. I hope in my essay/project I can articulate this clarity of purpose to my audience. Additionally, I would love to explore molding my project sections by different micro-histories at various locations to create my narrative of research. I also enjoyed the explanation of encompassing “vectorial factors” like routes and roots (22). 

On another note, I am wondering if anyone else who took AP U.S History before university learned about German migration to the United States that Conrad mentions from a U.S perspective? By stating the facts that Conrad outlines, “Between 1880 and 1893, almost 2 million people left Germany for the Americas” our teacher explained why people with Germanic origins make up the largest demographic of U.S citizens in the U.S to this day! Because of this, I was eager to learn the effects of this back in Germany. I was intrigued by the complexity of emigration when Conrad explained that this emigration period “led to an intense debate about the consequences and dangers of demographic decline, about the loss of national energy, and the effects of centrifugal mobilities. At the same time, the overseas diasporas were championed as idealized outposts of Germaness, unaffected by the detrimental effects of industrialization and class conflicts” (25).

Overall, by reading these key works, I was inspired to think about how I want to do and write transnational history. By analyzing their form, tone, and content, I understand why it is important to look to key texts in the field you will write about before writing.

The Inspiration of Key Works