Local history in the context of global history

Over the last decade, historians have actively debated about how to take into consideration the context of world history in their own interpretation and understanding of the history of their topic. In most past studies, a group of people, a nation, a region, a country or a cultural sphere were the core elements of their research framework. Previous calls for a more global approach (comparative history, world history, transnational history, crossed history, etc.) have made few inroads in actual historical practice. Yet with the development of new trends in historical studies along with the advance of globalization nowadays, we need to be more conscious of world/global history, even when we are discussing the history of a specific locality. In other words, historians should look back into the past with a different and wider perspective, with a view to move along different spatial scales: from local to regional sub-national, from regional to national, from national to regional international, from regional to global.

While solid contributions have been made in “reconnecting histories” at fairly global levels, especially around S. Subrahmanyam’s concept, there remains a challenge in practicing « connected history ». Aside from issues of awareness of such reconceptualization, how are we to match up existing interpretations of local history with the wider context of world/global history? Can we maintain them or should we reinterpret and modify them in the light of such linkages? Does the study of local history possess the potential of changing the master narrative of world/global  history?

During this workshop, we would like to consider these questions while paying special attention to East and West Asia (at the same time taking care that such expressions or concepts themselves could be an object of discussion). Global history will work against all essentialist visions of cultural areas, considered as tight, uniform, face-to-face blocks without internal contradictions. Yet, we must consider all these approaches as heuristic and methodological: they should not deny the existence of the spaces they want to open up. Participants will share a common set of core readings in the light of which they will prepare and discuss their own contributions.

Haneda Masashi - Christian Henriot

This workshop is part of the larger series of cultural events and academic meetings organized on the occasion of the Todai Forum in France, both in Lyon and Paris. The organizing institutions for this workshop are the Institute of Advanced Studies on Asia (The University of Tokyo) and the Lyons Institute of East Asian Studies (The University of Lyon).