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Comparative and transnational history : Central European by Heinz-Gerhard Haupt, Jürgen Kocka

By Heinz-Gerhard Haupt, Jürgen Kocka

Because the Nineteen Seventies West German historiography has been one of many major arenas of overseas comparative heritage. It has produced very important empirical experiences quite in social heritage in addition to methodological and theoretical reflections on comparative historical past. over the past two decades even if, this process has felt strain from assets: cultural old methods, which rigidity microhistory and the development of cultural move at the one hand, worldwide historical past and transnational methods with emphasis on hooked up heritage at the different. This quantity introduces the reader to a few of the key methodological debates and to contemporary empirical examine of German historians, who do comparative and transnational paintings

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Also the argument in Haupt, ‘Historische Komparatistik’, 137–50. 56. Cf. the bibliography of comparative works by European historians put together by Hartmut Kaelble in Haupt and Kocka, Geschichte und Vergleich, 111–30. 57. This story has often been told. Cf. , Lutz Raphael, Geschichtswissenschaft im Zeitalter der Extreme. Theorien, Methoden, Tendenzen von 1900 bis zur Gegenwart (Munich, 2003), chs. , An Assessment of 20th-Century Historiography. Professionalism, Methodologies, Writings (Stockholm, 2000); Doris Bachmann-Medick, Cultural Turns.

Classical comparison, moreover, fails to adequately address the historian’s central object: time. As a general rule, it compares societies from the same time period. By contrast, time is an essential element of transfer studies, since the studies are always analysing change. Jürgen Osterhammel has argued very convincingly in a similar vein, but with important differences. In contrast to Espagne, Osterhammel is not primarily interested in transfers among European countries, but in transfers between Europe and Asia, as well as other non-European societies.

It would not be difficult to continue like this. New developments in the contemporary world prompt us to take a new view of the past, and new theories help to detect or even ‘constitute’ new fields of inquiry. Both forces shaping the agenda of historians, the empirical and the theoretical one, have to be situated within larger historical contexts. Those who now advocate ‘transnational history’ should ask themselves what it is that motivates them to champion such a new ‘turn’. It should also encourage them not to establish their new direction in an exclusive and sectarian way.

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