Actor-Networks between 'Global Markets' and the 'Nation', 1650-1950

Actor-Networks between 'Global Markets' and the 'Nation', 1650-1950

Dr. Heather Ellis, Centre for British Studies, Dept. of History, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin; Dr. des Simone Müller-Pohl, John F. Kennedy Institute for North American Studies, Dept. of History, Freie Universität Berlin
John F. Kennedy Institute for North American Studies, Freie Universität Berlin
Vom - Bis
01.08.2013 - 02.08.2013
Simone Müller-Pohl

By now, Global history is a well-entrenched field of historical scholarship with a strong focus on aspects regarding a world-spanning capitalist system, transnational movements of labor, goods and knowledge as well as the increasing ‘integration’ of the world. Yet its interactions with smaller-scale units of analysis, such as the nation-state, are often misread or misunderstood as fundamentally antagonistic. Furthermore, studies often take a short-term perspective, focusing on the nineteenth century or the recent past. This workshop takes a longer-term perspective and aims to trace deeper trends in the networks between nations and global markets as well as the individual and wider historical forces.

This workshop proposes to analyze the intricate relationship between “Global Markets” and “the Nation” through a focus on ‘actor-networks’ within the time span of 1650-1950. The latest trends in revisionist literature have been characterized by two particular developments. On the one hand, transnational and global history have examined macro-historical processes and thus tended to produce broader systemic analyses. On the other hand, many have focused on specificity and complexity in the history of identity. Although both strands attempt to rewrite history ‘beyond the nation state’ and other traditional paradigms, they have thus far remained relatively disconnected.

This situation reflects a pre-existing disciplinary division within history between social and economic historians on the one hand and cultural historians on the other, which emerged following the cultural turn of the 1980s and 1990s. It is this division within the disciplinary environment and within the academic literature that this conference wishes to address through a focus on the actor/ individual and their networks as the link between macro- and micro history. We intend to explore how a combined analysis of the micro- and the macro levels could help to resolve the division between the two levels. We propose the focus on the ‘actor-network’ as one possibility of tackling this problem, as we see the actors as moving between and thereby helping to constitute and integrate the two perspectives.

Hence we invite paper proposals dealing with a wide variety of different trans-/ international ‘actor-networks’ which look at how identities are negotiated and constructed through and within the network. Among others, we would particularly welcome papers which focus on questions of nationality, spirituality, class, gender and ethnicity. In addition, we would welcome theoretical treatments on the potential of actor-network-theory to overcome the deficiencies of the micro-macro binary within the writing of history.

In order to achieve a thorough historicization of the phenomenon, we encourage scholars dealing with the early modern as well as the modern period to participate. By inviting a greater chronological sweep of investigation, this workshop will provide a rare forum for scholars of the early modern and modern periods to examine several of the key historical concepts, such as the network, to emerge from the past decade.

Pending funding we anticipate to be able to cover accommodation costs and offer a travel grant for participants. Abstracts are due October 31, 2012. Please send them to:



Dr. des Simone Müller-Pohl
John F. Kennedy Institute for North American Studies, Dept. of History
Lansstraße 7-9, 14195 Berlin

Dr. Heather Ellis,
Centre for British Studies, Dept. of History
Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

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