Focus on History

Globalization is history in the making and, at the same time, has a long history. An analysis which focuses on the present or is restricted to the late twentieth century misconceives the particular structural characteristics of contemporary phenomena as well as their path dependence. It also tends to overvalue the global economic-technical mechanics and the surface of the one globe and neglects the inner socio-cultural constructions of the different worlds which result from social experiences, concepts, and norms. This is why - covering a wide overall temporal range from the Middle Ages to Contemporary History - instances of networks and connections which reach across extensive geographical, ideological, and metaphysical distances will be systematically analyzed within the context of the Graduate Program. This is the only way to establish a well-grounded discussion on the question of whether we are actually living in a new age of globality or, rather, whether globalization is only a catchphrase for the contemporary experience of the processes of fundamental transformations.

The inclusion of medieval conceptions of the world also casts doubts on the categorical differentiation between modernity and pre-modernity and questions the meta-narrative of constantly increasing complexity. Competencies and possibilities for political, economic, and cultural agency were most often unequally distributed in the interactions between social groups whose members were alien to each other or lived distant from each other. Often stakeholders also aimed at creating and sustaining (im)balances. A historical approach which considers these asymmetries captures the agents of a changing world within their specific contexts and derives basic comparative mechanisms and patterns of world orders that also serve to deepen our understanding of the present.

Possible Dissertation Topics:

  • Agents and processes of group formation in historical world relations: global biographies; border crossers; formation of networks; social movements; formations of cultural identity; asymmetries of agency
  • Economics and ecology: chains of production and consumption; transfer of plants; commerce; socio-ecological interdependencies; history of developmental politics; regional business relations
  • Empires and domination: forms and changes of imperial reign; local, national, and imperial world relations; military and cultural (in)stability; European and non-European interactions
  • Religion and ideology: histories and tales of salvation; transformations of religious conceptions of the world; history of proselytization; competition of universal conceptions of the world