Second ENIUGH-Congress: Session "Critical Junctures of Globalization"

Second ENIUGH-Congress: Session "Critical Junctures of Globalization"

European Network in World and Global History (ENIUGH)
From - Until
03.07.2008 - 05.07.2008
Mandy Kretzschmar, Global and European Studies Institute i. Gr., Universität Leipzig

In the following you find a report on the session "Critical Junctures of Globalization" of the Second European Congress on World and Global History. The general aim and structure of the congress are described at: <>

Session: Critical Junctures of Globalization
Report by Mandy Kretzschmar, Global and European Studies Institute i. Gr., Universität Leipzig

Beyond doubt, Global history is pushing its way into German and European historiography. Consequently, the establishment of a new discipline generates the need to communicate topics of research, to argue conflicts of definition and to provide new categories of analysis and appropriate methodological tools as was evident in the discussions surrounding the Second European Congress of World and Global History taking place in Dresden, Germany at the beginning of July.

Among the proposed concepts to take account of the past in regard to global movements, and trans-national interactions has been the idea of Critical Junctures of Globalisation to which was dedicated a whole section consisting of five panels. Defined as historical moments, spaces and arenas of globalisation, Critical junctures of globalisation are characterized by the contestation and reshaping of spatial orders. In this definition, globalisation is seen as a successive sequence of tendencies of deterritorialisation and reterritorialisation.1 While the topics of the individual papers were wide-ranging in regard to their chronological and geographical scope, the common aim was to operationalise space as an category of analysis, thus pinpointing caesuras of global significance and delineating new spatial orders.

In his introduction, STEFAN TROEBST (Leipzig) referred to three ideas guiding the first panel entitled “Is the post-war period over?”. First, he proposed the historical moments of 1956 and 1968 as possible alternatives for historical narratives about the emergence of a new political order of Europe, in contrast to the common caesura of 1989/90. Enlarging upon his argument, KONRAD JARAUSCH (Chapel Hill) emphasized the need to understand the plurality of war endings. Exemplary, he focused upon the gradual processes characterizing the beginning of a post-war period such as the end of fighting, de-mobilisation, reconstruction and attempts of diplomatic re-order, differing for each war participant. Second, the contradiction between the end of a post-war period and the continuity of a memory culture, processing the experience of war, was subject to discussion. WOLFGANG JILGE (Leipzig) reflected upon this aspect for the case of the Ukraine where a memory culture concerning the experience of World War II is still in the making. Last, it was argued, that the aspect of framing (a) post-war period(s) thus simultaneously required a definition of what marked its end.

The second panel conducted by scholars from Aarhus and Roskilde University in Denmark was dedicated to recent research in the nordic countries in the field of global history. HAGEN SCHULZ-FORBERG (Aarhus) and ANNE FOLKE HENNINGSON (Aarhus) outlined the content and aims of two main initiatives: The Nordic Global History Network and the Network on Global Cultural History. Research of the first project is devoted to global moments of new beginnings as new orders emerge out of the collapse of old systems, such as in 1918, 1945 and 1989. In particular, the idea and identification of possible “Zero Hours” as caesuras, triggering a period of transition and the advent of a new spatial and political order, runs parallel with the overarching topic of critical junctures of globalisation. While the project is focused upon the twentieth century, BERTEL NYGAARD (Aarhus) demonstrated that the concept is similarly adaptable to the period of 1830-1848 as a historical moment of crisis, initiating the development of a modern political landscape in Denmark. Similarly, the second network, focusing on cultural history in the 19th century, followed the ideas of discontinuity and change of spatial orders. As an example MICHAEL HARBSMEIER (Roskilde) pointed out that the study of non-western travel-writings in the second half of the 19th century reveals a changing spatial perception, culminating in the end of non-European admiration for the European world in the light of the First World War.

As accentuated at the beginning of the panel “Beyond national history and memory politics”, increased academic attention was needed in regard to the global scope of genocide studies. CHRISTIAN GERLACH (Pittsburg) referred to the examples of studying enforced changes upon a society or the motifs for anti-guerilla warfare as but two challenges in writing a global history of genocide. He welcomed the recent influence of transnational approaches to the study of mass violence as seemingly secure categories such as of perpetrators and victims are subject to reconsiderations. Following, UGUR UMIT UNGOR (Amsterdam) clarified the idea in focusing upon the question of what is revenge. Referring to the examples of mass violence during the Balkan Wars and the Armenian genocide, he predicated the existence of a cycle of collective vengeance as some survivors cross borders to become perpetrators of violence themselves, thus reflecting on the complexity and unreliability of dichotomous roles. Closing, DOMINIK SCHALLER (Heidelberg) illustrated the advantages of a transnational approach using the example of the complexity of the crisis in the African great lakes region, interpreting the Second Congo War as Africa’s First World War.

The second conference day opened with the panel on “Critical Junctures of Globalisation”. First, ULF ENGEL (Leipzig) outlined that critical junctures of globalisation exist where different spatial references collide, as old orders are contested, while simultaneously new ones emerge. As a unique example of a global crisis, DEBORA GERSTENBERGER (Leipzig) referred to the transfer of the Portuguese Royal Court in 1807 from Lisbon to Rio de Janeiro to escape the threat of the Napoleonic army and thus, the fight for a new world order. As argued, the reconstruction of imperial space set free energy and resources, such as opening up the Brazilian ports for free trade, the establishment of a police force and the control of the communication system, to remain a global player among the larger empires. Dedicated to a different caesura, MANDY KRETZSCHMAR (Leipzig) reasoned that the outcome of World War I marked the beginning of a spatial realignment in the Pacific in which Australia was recognized as a separate member in the international arena. Receiving the status of a semi-colonising power in regard to New Guinea, Australia’s spatial frame of orientation and political action widened, while it remained closely bound to Britain, financially and politically. As a critical juncture of globalisation, EIKE KARIN OHLENDORF (Leipzig) addressed the attempt of local elites in the French colonial cities of Hanoi and Dakar to re-order social space on a local scale. As was argued, the introduction of legal mechanisms to exclude vagabonds from the capitals, created new borders within the colonial situation, while the latter had been the cause of the economic constraints resulting in the phenomenon of vagrancy itself. In his comment, DAVID NEWMANN (Beerscheba, Negev) highlighted the idea of cities as cores of power and control once more. During the adjoining discussion, the problematic of how to operationalize the concept of critical junctures became the focus of attention.

DAVID SIMO (Yahoundé) entered into the debate on “1989 as a Global Moment in Africa”. As highlighted, the events occurring in Europe surrounding the collapse of the Eastern bloc had lasting effects on a global scale, especially for the African states. As stated, the transitory period toward democratisation was not consummated and Africa remained a place of controversy between East and West, while the changes initiated a new discourse about Africa and its perception. Exemplary, in an interpretative analysis of selected political speeches, he explained how the term civil society, as an instrument for democratisation, had been absorbed, thus shaking the old order and providing the intellectual context of political groups to argue for necessary political changes. Following, Ulf Engel (Leipzig) outlined a possible research agenda of Africa’s role in globalisation, in general and in regard to the global moment 1989, in particular. A strong emphasis on studying the correlations of the events causing the spatial turn was followed by postulating the need for systematic research designs based on comparative case studies, a thorough analysis of primary sources that are still mainly unsighted, as well as a focus on the significance of transnational mechanism such as learning, competition and the adaptation of common norms.

Summarizing, the panels provided stimulating discussions in regard to the overarching concept to study processes of territorialisation. As has become visible throughout the variety of papers, the history of globalisation is characterized through crisis, reform, revolution and conflicts. Further, the significance and scope of caesuras is disputable as reflected in the question and comments of both, the panellists and participants. Nevertheless, there is general agreement that caesuras trigger challenges to spatial orders. Finally, the aim of the organisers and panellists to demonstrate that the concept of critical junctures can be operationalized successfully has been achieved, despite an expressed need for further clarification of its theoretical basis.

Program of the Session:

Panel: Nordic Global Histories, chair: Hagen Schulz-Forberg, Åarhus University, DK
Hagen Schulz-Forberg: Introduction
Michael Harbsmeier: "Travel Studies and Global Histories"
Anne Folke Henningsen: "Report from the Network on Global Cultural History"
Hagen Schulz-Forberg: "The Nordic Global History Network"
Bertel Nygaard: "A zero hour in Denmark: revolution, crisis and the transnational roots ofthe modern Danish political landscape, 1830-1848"

Panel: Beyond National History and Memory Politics: Transnational Genocide Studies, chair: Dominik J. Schaller, Heidelberg, DE/ Juergen Zimmerer, Sheffield, UK
Dominik J. Schaller & Jürgen Zimmerer: "Transnational Genocide Studies - Introduction"
Christian Gerlach: "Extremely Violent Societies: A New Approach to Mass Violence and Difficulties with Writing Global History"
Ugur Umit Ungor: "Rethinking the Mass Violence of the Young Turk Dictatorship, 1913-1950"

Panel: Critical Junctures of Globalization in Comparative Perspective; chair: Ulf Engel, Universität Leipzig, DE
David Newman: "Rethinking Borders in a Globalized Era"
Deborah Gerstenberger: "Coping with a new world order: The transfer of the Portuguese Royal Court (1807) to Brazil as a result of the worldwide competition between France and England"
Eike Ohlendorf: "Re-ordering the social: Excluding the vagabond from French colonial cities"
Mandy Kretzschmar: "World order through the looking glass – Australian images of a European-implemented power structure during the first half of the 20th century"

Panel: Is the Post-War period over?, chair: Stefan Troebst, GWZO an der Universität Leipzig, DE
papers by Konrad H. Jarausch, Wolfram von Scheliha, Wilfried Jilge

1 Engel, Ulf; Middell, Matthias, Bruchzonen der Globalisierung, globale Krisen und Territorialitätsregime – Kategorien einer Globalgeschichtsschreibung, in: Comparativ 12 (2005), Heft 5/6, p. 5-38, p. 25.

Contact (announcement)

Katja Naumann
GWZO, Universität Leipzig
Luppenstrasse 1b
04177 Leipzig
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