The mission of the University of South Carolina’s History Center is to
- nurture scholarship
- promote scholarly communication in the Department and other historically-inclined scholars
- engage with local communities
- further the development goals of the College and University
- raise the Department visibility and enhance its reputation in the historical profession
The Transnational Turn: Prospects and Challenges
In recent decades, debates about the scope and impact of globalization and the recognition that nations are to a large extent “imagined communities” rather natural entities have led many historians to take a “transnational turn” in their research and teaching. Historians interested in the impact of Islam on medieval Europe, for example, have called into question the boundaries of “Western” civilization, studies of ecological imperialism have posited that microbes and livestock were far more important to the spread of colonialist power than naval strength, and analyses of consumerism have revealed local patterns of taste and marketing across radically types of national regimes—capitalism and socialist, democratic and fascist. Despite the growing interest in transnational approaches, however, historians remain unsure about the conceptual boundaries and political meaning of the transnational turn.
Over the next two academic years, the University of South Carolina History Center will explore varieties of transnational history through a series of public lectures, workshops, symposia, roundtable discussions, and works-in-progress seminars. We seek to interrogate more deeply the origins of the transnational turn and to determine its usefulness for expanding historical knowledge. The transnational turn raises a number of questions for scholars: is transnational history best understood as a methodology, a framework for research, or a style of narration? Is transnational history the same as global, international, or other forms of entangled histories, or does it operate at a different scale or on a different set of topics? Why is the transnational turn taking place at this particular moment—are we building on lost traditions of historical writing that preceded the modern nation state, or are there new forces at work in society and within universities that requires a fresh approach? We are especially keen to explore the significance of the transnational turn for undergraduate and graduate teaching—how do new methods and findings in transnational approaches affect how we teach undergraduate surveys or develop assignments? Should we encourage graduate students to take up transnational topics in framing their dissertation topics—and if so what are the opportunities and challenges of doing so?
The History Center, with generous support from the College of Arts and Sciences and the Office of the Vice President for Research, offers a variety of variety of programming, including public lectures, seminars, colloquia, a works-in-progress series, and sessions on pedagogy.
The History Center
Department of History
University of South Carolina
Gambrell Hall 207
Columbia, SC 29208