Looking back over this past semester, it’s crazy (and quite scary) to think about how my ideas and conceptions of transnational and global history have grown and how influenced I’ve been by the readings we have done and the conversations/discussions we’ve had as a group. Considering this is my last ever (!) History module at St Andrews, I’m feeling quite emotional.  

I never thought I would be doing a project on Czechoslovakia and South Africa – two places I had very little knowledge about before this semester. However, I feel this reflects the breadth of literature I’ve been exposed to in this class, and I am so glad to have found an area that I find so interesting and exciting – particularly because it is so new to me. In terms of where I go from here, putting together my presentation certainly helped with concretely structuring my argument and pinpointing the questions I still need answered. I’m looking forward to hearing feedback that will help as I keep writing my final essay.  

In terms of presentations – I was blown away. They were all so reflective, well researched and interesting. What made it even better was seeing how people’s ideas had developed from that first presentation in Week 6.  

Claire – your presentation was so great. Your close reading of primary sources was really insightful, particularly the attention you played to time and how this reflected whether women worked etc. Your comments on identity and the ambiguity of the term reminded me of a reading I came across with my own research into solidarity movements such as Solidarnosc. I would recommend having a look at Magdalena Grabowska’s “Bringing the Second World In: Conservative Revolution(s), Socialist Legacies, and Transnational Silences in the Trajectories of Polish Feminism.” This deals with the differing types of feminism that existed in the time of state socialism in Poland – and how a lot of this work was left unfinished after the fall of the USSR and the transition of Poland to a market economy meant the return of a patriarchal society. I think this links a lot to the idea of memory and identity, how these memories of experiences of feminism and female activism in Poland prior to migration may have remained with migrating women – and how did this impact their experiences in the places they migrated to? Just a thought! Overall, I think you’ve got a great project brewing and I would love to read the final piece!  

Laura CL – great use of historiography and this was definitely an area I knew nothing about, so I learned so much!  The idea of a hybridisation of fascism was really interesting, particularly in relating to how ideas and spread and then manipulated for a particular use. Your comments on how Vichy France was not a stable political bloc really stuck out to me – would you then say that antisemitism at this time in fascist countries was a nation-building/nation strengthening exercise? Was formulating a common enemy in the form of the Jewish people a way to solidify their nationhood? I’d be interested to know what you think! Excited to see where your project goes in the next two weeks.  

George – I think your project has developed so well since we last heard about it. I really liked your reflections on your development and taking a less emotive but more socio-political approach. I’m also looking at the global sixties to an extent and can agree the Routledge handbook is great! Since your topic links a little to mine in terms of activism, I’d recommend taking a look at Kacper Szulecki, “Hijacking Ideas: Human Rights, Peace, and Environmentalism in Czechoslovak and Polish Dissident Discourse.” I used it for the human rights section but the bit about environmentalism is really interesting because it talks about how environmental issues were a way to unite activists across the Eastern Bloc – so you really get that transnational aspect with how different groups worked with each other to formulate a “universal” concept of environmentalism that could be used as a political force. Best of luck with your project!  

Final Thoughts & Presentation Feedback