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On the potentialities (and limits) of collaboration in global history

Gabriela Goldin Marcovich

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  • 1 We are thankful to Jeremy Adelman, Sebastian Conrad, Andreas Eckert, Haneda Masashi, Antonella Roma (...)

1This dossier aims to explore two separate, but related, questions: how to write global history? And how to do history in a collaborative way? It is the result of the exchanges and reflections of a group of PhD students, coming from different countries and academic backgrounds, who met, and started to discuss, in a Summer School on “scales in global history”, which took place in Tokyo and Sapporo in September 2015. Moving from existing historiography, what follows is an intellectual experiment about our ways of writing global history in a collaborative way.1

  • 2 For some examples of collective enquiries see Bernard Lepetit (ed.), Les Formes de l’expérience. Un (...)
  • 3 Paul-André Rosental, “Introduction : modèles, usages, effets du collectif dans les sciences sociale (...)
  • 4 This is part of a larger debate concerning the practices, place, and valorization – or lack thereof (...)

2Historical studies rely heavily on different forms of collaboration, although modalities have changed over time. Since the correspondence networks in the early modern period, the international congresses in the spread of the nineteenth century together with the diffusion of the German “seminar”, the emergence of big historical journals in the twentieth century, and the collective enquiries of the twentieth century along with the creation of laboratoires de recherche to the most recent digital humanities projects connecting many researchers across disciplines, collective work is institutionally encouraged, even idealized.2 However, even though one could say that in a broad sense “every author is necessarily a collective author”,3 in history, it is still rare to see co-authored academic texts and when it is the case, the activity seldom concerns more than two authors.4

3Global history has specifically called for collaboration between historians and historiographies.5 As Lynn Hunt writes, “[h]istory writing in the global era can only be a collaborative form of inquiry, whether between types of approaches or between scholars from different parts of the globe. We are not just interconnected but also interdependent.”6 Our two-year-long project was born out of a specific form of collective work (a summer school for graduate students) and aimed at exploring the potentialities and limits of collaboration in global history. It first took shape at the summer school, held in Japan in September 2015 by the Global History Collaborative, a consortium between the University of Tokyo, Freie and Humboldt Universities in Berlin, the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris, and Princeton University.7 The consortium is “dedicated to exploring the various trajectories of cross-border entanglements across the globe. Unlike programs that treat global history as an extension of imperial or economic history, [their] approach emphasizes the entanglements between specific regions and global structures.”8 The summer school brought together thirty-two graduate students and twelve faculty members, whose geographical origins went well beyond the places of the four aforementioned universities. During that first encounter, each participant presented a paper which connected his or her own research project, global history, and the question of scales.9 Each paper was read in advance and discussed by the whole group for an hour. This rather broad theme allowed for a series of heterogeneous elements. The papers varied in terms of period (ranging from the fourteenth century to the twenty-first century), subject matters, as well as in their field (economic history, oral history, cultural history, history of science, history of diplomacy, etc.). There was also significant heterogeneity in terms of national “styles”, since we all came from different academic traditions. The exercise was as much an effort to write for an audience of historians that were not specialists in our own themes as it was an experience in discovering how much our ways of writing history were situated in specific traditions and national contexts.

  • 10 Detailed reports in Japanese and English of each session can be found at http://coretocore.ioc.u-to (...)
  • 11 The GHC aims at “recasting global history as a global enterprise, creating a space for graduate stu (...)
  • 12 Dominic Sachsenmaier, Global Perspectives on Global History, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, (...)

4In spite of these heterogeneities, questions and themes that were specific to global history (the core axis that brought us all together) emerged and resounded in each session.10 If the label “global history” allowed such a different group of students to successfully engage with each other’s work, was it possible to push the experience forward? After all, global history strives to break free from national frameworks by connecting spaces and historiographies that all too often do not communicate among themselves.11 Dominic Sachensenmaier notes that although universities are “firmly grounded within specific nation-states”, the exchanges, funding, and the developments in communication through email and digitalization increasingly allow for cross-regional collaboration and international dialogue between historians. “Nevertheless, he laments, especially in the field of history and some neighboring disciplines most collaborative efforts between international groups of scholars are usually confined to single conferences and conventions.” He calls instead for new “structures on which more multilateral and less nation-centered visions of the past could be developed. [… N]ew landscapes of scholarly collaboration can only grow through a multitude of emerging projects and experiments with new kinds of academic work modes.”12 Was it possible to further explore the historiographical and international dialogue that had been started during our weeklong discussions? And if so, how were we to do it once everybody was back home in three different continents and across twelve time zones?

Experimenting collective writings in global history

  • 13 Paul-André Rosental, “Introduction: modèles, usages, effets du collectif dans les sciences sociales (...)

5While we were eager to engage in a collaborative project, the modalities of doing so were unclear. The question is worth asking: is collective work more productive? Which are the ways of working together as a group? And do new technologies and new issues affect them?13 Our approach is the opposite of the one that is usually followed in social sciences when launching a collective inquiry, where the starting point is the building of a common base from which to analyze a given field. Here, on the contrary, the attempt was to go from different fields and search for common questions, partly because of the contingent situation of being a group of graduate students working on our own dissertation. Our challenge was to find a shared ground between the individual research projects presented during the summer school in terms of their relation to global history. Writing collectively seemed the ideal way to experiment with global history, as a way of reconciling the heterogeneity of time, spaces, and approaches, and as an interesting device for exploring the problem of scales in global history, which was the original theme of the summer school. We decided to “give it a try.”

6Apart from the week in Japan, the group met only once, during a workshop we organized in Paris in April 2016, which was devoted to discussing and reworking the articles for the dossier.14 We presented our project partly in person and partly through videoconference during the second GHC summer school held in Princeton in May 2016.15 Otherwise, we all met periodically via videoconference, and each small group corresponded among themselves via email and video, and in person when possible. Online collaboration was thus an important dimension of this project, as we also made use of shared folders and web-based word processors by which we could write together in real time.16 One of the great outcomes of the yearlong process was the formation of a group that effectively came to know each other’s research not only in depth, but also for a sustained period of time.

7The project and its results have to be thought of as a series of experiments whose outcome had been uncertain since the beginning. As in any experimental procedure, the results are mixed. The initial idea was to co-author articles that built on but also shifted away from our research projects. Five teams were formed, each composed of members coming from two or three universities of the GHC network, on the basis of affinities either in topics or methods: monetary history in the early modern period; political ideas and identities in the aftermath of World War I; history of science and global history; the question of global lives and collective biography; and statehood in Asia in late-medieval and early modern periods. Not all the participants of the summer school decided to join the project. This was in part due to the different stages in dissertation writing that we were in, but also due to the real difficulties of weaving a dialogue with such a variety of sources and historiographies, beyond the effort to overcome our differences. In the unfolding of the project, a reflection about what global history is and how to write it (with two, four or six hands) naturally emerged. Experimenting with collaborative history was not only a matter of coming up with a common argument or article. Indeed, throughout the year, within each group, and during general workshop sessions, we discussed global history and the many ways in which our work is – or is not – global history. The papers that we are presenting here constitute the positive outcomes of the experiment, as they have been finalized and accepted for publication. Nevertheless, we believe that the process itself has been extremely significant, with its many productive failures and with collaborations partially erased by the final forms of the articles. Our experimental collaboration brought to the surface a number of salient issues that we would like to discuss in the introduction. Three problems stood out: the role of synchronicity in global history writing, the uses of global history, and the choice of scales.

Synchronicity in global history writing

  • 17 On the role of synchronicity in comparative history see Marc Bloch “Pour une histoire comparée des (...)
  • 18 These individual articles – “Re-examination of Maritime Prohibitions in East Asia in Seventeenth - (...)

8Perhaps the clearest outcome, at the risk of stating the obvious, was that synchronicity turned out to play a much bigger role in collaborative writing than what we expected.17 Out of the initial groups, only those in which the original research projects dealt with the same period (albeit in different spaces) managed to write an article that successfully integrated two or three research projects. This of course is not generalizable and does not mean that the opposite enterprise (integrating different research projects dealing with different periods) is necessarily doomed. In our experience, however, jumps in time were much more difficult to breach than geographical boundaries. For the teams whose research covered broad chronological spans, we initially thought that we could focus either on a historiographical or on a methodological approach, rather than following a strictly thematic problematic since we were building on our personal research projects. Initially we envisioned a team based on the history of science connecting three distinct periods: Enlightenment’s era, the mid-twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty-first century. Another team aimed at bringing together the Mongol empire in the fourteenth century and the relations between Japan, Korea and China in the – eighteenth century, by focusing on State formation and local knowledge. Yet another team planned to stress the issue of sources and methodological approaches in biographical writings in the early-modern period and the twentieth century. These projects have finally evolved into two individual papers, which, as such, have not been included in this dossier,18 while the one by Jiyoon Kim and Marcia Schenck has become a dialogue, centered on the twentieth century. In each of these cases the problem was not so much the chronological gaps, but the fact that they sit astride important revolutions such as the early modernization or the industrialization. Distance in time proved to be difficult to overcome through writing – ultimately leading to completely different projects, but it was no less fruitful in its collaborative and experimental dimension. The iterated instances in which we engaged and discussed each other’s work were opportunities for exchanging bibliographical references, bringing together longue durée perspectives on different issues, and maturing our ideas along the way through this dialogue.

9In the end, the articles presented here deal with a homogenous timeframe. However, the factor of synchronicity played out in a different way for each article and it was not necessarily the point of departure for each group. While exploring the aftermath of World War I in different geographical and cultural contexts – West African Pan-Africanists, Mexican anti-imperialists, and German colonialists – Krautwald, Lindner and Nakao explicitly set out to analyze the commonalities and differences between the political identities of these three groups of actors. Although there is no direct link between these three disparate groups, they argue that they are connected by what they call a “shared sense of marginality” that stems from their similar, if not synchronous, perception of new global power relationships and the appropriation of globally circulating ideas in the aftermath of the First World War.

10Edwards, Tosato and Steininger offer a reassessment of the internal and external economic forces that shaped monetary thinking and crafted sovereignty in an interlocking global sphere dominated by what they consider “the era of Chinese hegemony”. China’s demand for silver effectively determined the general flow of money in the early modern period. They contend that this demand contributed to a “great convergence” and increasing harmonization of the global trading system. Their analysis of the English monetary debates up to the financial revolution in the late-seventeenth century, the policies of the East India Company in India and the Ottoman Empire in the eighteenth century suggests a convergence in relation to the definition of money, which can only be understood if the role of Chinese hegemony is taken into account.

11A synchronic convergence was the outcome rather than the outset of Kim and Schenck’s paper, as they explored two different case studies dealing with the methodological question of “global mobile lives”: labor migration from Mozambique and Angola to Eastern Germany during the 1970-80s, and overseas travel in South Korea in the 1980s. Their article, written in the form of a conversation, reflects on the practices of global history. Focusing on the actors and their mobile trajectories brought to the fore some very powerful insights on the “hot cold war” and the role of the state in relation to mobility, which in turn highlighted many shared aspects and comparable points in spite of being two cases from either side of the iron curtain.

Combining different approaches to global history

  • 19 Michael Werner and Bénédicte Zimmermann, “Penser l’histoire croisée: entre empirie et réflexivité, (...)
  • 20 Jürgen Kocka, in discussing comparative history, its difficulties and the seeming opposition with t (...)

12Michael Werner and Bénédicte Zimmerman acutely state, in their article on histoire croisée, that “[w]hereas the comparative method tends to privilege synchrony, inquiries on transfers clearly fall within a diachronic perspective”19. However, the synchrony we are dealing with here does not necessarily imply a strictly comparative perspective. If synchronicity has encouraged certain comparative operations, on some level, all the articles focus on exchanges and connections. In this sense, we hope our dossier contributes to reflect on the diversity of approaches, as well as their complementarity.20

13Krautwald, Lindner and Nakao analyze the global circulation of political ideas such as pro- and anti-imperialism in the early twentieth century. Edwards, Tosato and Steininger pay attention to the flow of money in early modern times. Kim and Schenk discuss the mobility of Angolans, Mozambicans, and South Koreans across different national and cultural boundaries. Synchronicity does not necessarily mean integration. However, the progressive global integration since the early modern period does account for the synchronicity that allowed the merging of individual research projects into single articles. For Edwards, Tosato and Steininger, it is the convergence of the market that explains the convergence of ideas about what money is, between England and the Ottoman Empire.

14In this dossier, wars have an important role in terms of revealing such patterns. The aftermath of World War I modified the world order and the political equilibrium between and within nations. In their exploration of political actors’ feelings of marginality, Krautwald, Lindner and Nakao make a convincing case for understanding the appropriation of globally circulating ideas that speak of increasingly imbricated world politics and their uses in local contexts. In their analysis of global mobile lives in socialist African-German labor migrations and South-Korean tourists and travelers, Kim and Schenck show the interlocking levels on which major global disruptions such as the Cold War impacted everyday lives and the very perceptions of locality and the global among different populations.

  • 21 Lynn Hunt, Writing History in the Global Era, W. W. Norton and Company, New York and London, 2015, (...)
  • 22 Jürgen Osterhammel claims that “one does not generally have to scale the ladder from the local to t (...)
  • 23 Jacques Revel, “Micro history, macro history: what the variations in scale help to think in a globa (...)

15But the developments of global integration “do not necessarily feed into a single channel” and “answers to historical questions require careful attention to the scale of analysis”.21 There is indeed no single scale of the global and the choice of scale and localities, especially when trying to combine research projects into a coherent text, remained a difficult challenge. One way to think about this layering of scales, and the ways in which different levels of analysis are imbricated and affect one another, is to move beyond the seeming opposition between the macro and the micro – as many authors have argued. Indeed, the global and the local are not discrete entities and thinking about this interplay can help shed new lights on historical phenomena.22 This is true for both national frameworks (for a long time the “natural” spatial framework of historical studies) and for the planet as a whole. The reflections on scales that began in the 1980s have thus been pursued by global history, and have contributed to showing that there is no natural or self-evident scale.23 Since our articles stem from our individual research projects, the layering of scales was something to think about both within our projects and in their summation.

From the choices of scales to the question of viewpoints

  • 24 John Brewer and Silvia Sebastiani, “Forum: closeness and distance in the age of Enlightenment. Intr (...)
  • 25 Silvia Sebastiani, “What constituted historical evidence of the New World? Closeness and distance i (...)
  • 26 Jacques Revel, “Micro-analyse et construction du social”, in Jacques Revel (ed.), Jeux d’échelles. (...)
  • 27 Jacques Revel, “Présentation”, in Jacques Revel (ed.), Jeux d’échelles. La micro-analyse à l’expéri (...)
  • 28 For an examination of the ways in which the questions of Italian microhistory can be useful for glo (...)
  • 29 On this point, see Antonella Romano, “Fabriquer l’histoire des sciences modernes: Rélexions sur une (...)
  • 30 John Brewer and Silvia Sebastiani, “Forum: closeness and distance in the age of Enlightenment. Intr (...)

16The question of scales of analysis in history is anything but new. In the eighteenth century, “[t]he proliferation of studies into regions far distant from Europe (the tropical Pacific), and the extension of zones of contact with new worlds and peoples (the hinterlands of continental America, the Asiatic territories of Russia) led [historians] to enlarge their vision, helping them to think globally.”24 In Enlightenment histories, for instance, the fiction of an extra-terrestrial view allowed for an all-encompassing view of the globe.25 The discussion of scales in global history is often reduced to a matter of geographical boundaries, primarily concerned with the articulation between the global and the local. However, this geographical understanding leaves somewhat unattended the older issue of the “fabric of the social”.26 In Jeux d’échelles, an experimental approach was emphasized: what happens if one tries to understand big problems using a different lens?27 Indeed, if the macro and the micro can coincide with the globe and the town, they also correspond to the level of the discussion as principles used in explaining causality in history.28 In this sense, global history allows for a sort of decentering from traditional or unquestioned perspectives, and for recentering in different ways, shedding new light on historical phenomena.29 Furthermore, the problem of scale of analysis entails the question of distance and closeness in history writing. “What was it that the historian was able or wished to see and in what way: through direct observation, through the eyes of others, or by the measurement of data (and, if so, which)? What sort of distancing would produce and agreed sense of what constituted history, and, conversely, how does distance produce distorted points of view?”.30 In my own doctoral research about the production of knowledge about New Spain during the eighteenth century by Mexican creoles, distance plays a key role in the practices of knowledge and writing. After the expulsion of the Compagnie of Jesus from the Spanish territories in 1767, the exiled Jesuits in the Papal territories set out to write historical, religious and poetic narratives about New Spain and its inhabitants. Natural history problems, or historical ones, are not dealt with in the same ways in Mexico City or in Rome or Bologna, whether they are considered from afar or not. Distance in this dossier plays not only in time, between the historian and its object, but also in space – both by dealing with places distant from one another in the same article and through a long distance collaboration between historians. If our collective experiment started as a reflection on the problem of scales, it turned out to be an exploration of the question of viewpoints. What happens when the point of view is not a unified one? How to reconcile different perspectives on a given issue? How to integrate different points of view into a single piece of writing?

  • 31 See the special issue of the Revue d’Histoire Moderne et Contemporaine, “Le métier d’historien à l’ (...)

17The question of integration turned out to be manifold: not only how to integrate different scales but also how to integrate different locales and perspectives in a fruitful manner without overriding one with the other. To be sure, writing collectively forced us to take this problem seriously on various levels. On an internal level, each article puts forward different strategies to deal with this multiplicity of perspectives by integrating them into a bigger narrative. On a very concrete level, in order to bridge the distances that kept us apart, both in terms of space and time zones, we heavily relied on the Internet for both written and video communication, and as a shared work environment. As with any technical revolution in the realm of writing and information, first computers and word processing programs and later the Internet have not only modified the production and consumption of the written word, but also the writing processes themselves and the forms of authorship behind them. However, while the craft of the historian has vastly changed and the digitalization of sources has allowed for new practices and research, much less attention has been paid to the realm of writing and the digital world and the possibilities that the Internet offers for collective writing.31 On top of these concrete technical aspects, the experience was an interesting exploration of the many possibilities that collective writing offers in terms of rhetorical and narrative choices. In this sense, each of the three articles that we are presenting here took a specific road and proposed a different style of writing: from the typographic display of the dialogue between the authors to the unification of the narrative. This latter option is no less experimental than the former while producing different outcomes. Whereas Edwards, Steininger and Tosato opted for an apparent seamless voice, Krautwald, Lindner and Nakao offer, one after the other, a systematic examination of their own fields, sewn into a single argument. The mise en scène of the dialogue between Kim and Schenk closes our common reflection. The different narratives and formats chosen in these three articles are thus part of our collective experiment.

  • 32 For more on positionality and global history, see Dominic Sachsenmaier, Global Perspectives on Glob (...)
  • 33 On the problems of English as a hegemonic academic language, see Dominic Sachsenmaier, Global Persp (...)

18On an external level, the two-year-long process of discussion and writing also made us aware of our own positions as historians writing history and, more specifically, as historians engaging with global history.32 One non-negligible aspect of this process was the linguistic dimension of our collaboration. Although we were able, through our exchanges, to become more familiar of historiographies in languages that we cannot read, we resorted to English to communicate and write, losing some of the ease of working in our own language for those of us that are not English native speakers, although it is worth noting that many of us do not work in their native tongue at their home university either.33 This hegemonic aspect of the English language is of course part of a larger discussion about how and why global history is possible and the ways in which we, as historians based in institutions located across the world but in the northern hemisphere, practice it.

  • 34 Jeremy Adelman, Is global history still possible, or has it had its moment? | Aeon Essays, https:// (...)

19This seems to be particularly interesting for our group: in the months following our first meeting in September 2015, the global and local politics of each of our native and adopted countries seemed to call for a reassessment of the merits and limits of global history as an endeavor. The point has been clearly expressed by Jeremy Adelman through a question which is far from being simply rhetorical: “Is global history still possible, or has it had its moment?” In his words, “historians working across borders merged their mode of communication in ways that created new walls”; “interdependence can yield more conflict.” By stressing “the power of place”, despite historians’ aspirations to cosmopolitanism, movements and border-crossings, such a question invites to further investigate what the present challenges of global history are and what they mean for its future.34 Whether by multiplying the perspectives of a single global moment, shifting the traditional narrative focus by taking into account different actors and places, or making explicit the dialogue between historians and historiographies, we hope our dossier contributes to the broader discussion of how to write global histories today.

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Notes

1 We are thankful to Jeremy Adelman, Sebastian Conrad, Andreas Eckert, Haneda Masashi, Antonella Romano, Silvia Sebastiani, and Alessandro Stanziani for their support with this project; all the participants in the first annual summer school of Global History Collaborative in Tokyo and Hokkaido for their reading and comments on the original papers: in addition to the professors already mentioned above, Janet Chen, Sheldon Garon, Kuroda Akinobu, Stefan Rinke, and Sugiura Miki (Faculty); and Sarah Abel, Yongchao Cheng, Emoto Hiroshi, Fukuhara Kotaro, Leonard von Galen, Katakura Shizuo, Karina Kriegesmann, Emily Kern, Mandkhai Lakhagvasuren, Paula Vedoveli, and Terada Yuki (students); Jean-Frédéric Schaub, Étienne de la Vaissière, and Jean-Paul Zuñiga for agreeing to discuss the papers during a workshop in Paris and for their invaluable contributions; the GHC office of the University of Tokyo, and in particular Miyajima Kumiko, for their warm welcome in Japan; the Centre de Recherches Historiques-in particular João Morais, Nadja Vuckovic, and Danielle Lecrasmeur-and the Centre Koyre for their help in organizing the workshop in Paris; the anonymous reviewers of the Atelier du CRH for their comments. Special thanks are owed to Sarah Abel, Yongchao Cheng, Emily Kern and Mandkhai Lakhagvasuren for their invaluable help along the way; and to Silvia Sebastiani, without whose intellectual and moral support this project would have never been possible.

2 For some examples of collective enquiries see Bernard Lepetit (ed.), Les Formes de l’expérience. Une autre histoire sociale, Paris, Albin Michel, 1995; Jacques Revel (ed.), Jeux d’échelles: la micro-analyse à l’expérience, Paris, Gallimard Seuil, 1996. For examples of digital humanities projects see the ARTLF Encyclopédie project, http://encyclopedie.uchicago.edu/ or “Mapping the Republic of Letters”, http://republicofletters.stanford.edu/.

3 Paul-André Rosental, “Introduction : modèles, usages, effets du collectif dans les sciences sociales”, Les Cahiers du Centre de Recherches Historiques, Archives, 36, 2005.

4 This is part of a larger debate concerning the practices, place, and valorization – or lack thereof – and of co-authorship in the humanities. For some very stimulating insights about co-authorship both in practice and in theory, see the groundbreaking work of Andrea Lunsford and Lisa Ede, professors of Rhetoric and Composition. Together they have explored the complex nature of writing together, the array of different situations for such a practice and the way it relates to concepts of authorship, especially in academia, where they note that while critically the notion of the author has been thoroughly reconsidered thanks to work in Literature, the academic writing practices remain entrenched with monolithical notions of what an author and the act of writing means. Lisa Ede and Andrea Lunsford, “Why Write... Together?”, Rhetoric Review, 1, 2, 1983, p. 150-57; “Collaboration and Concepts of Authorship”, PMLA, 116, 2, 2001, p. 354-369, among others.

5 Christopher A. Bayly, Sven Beckert, Matthew Connelly, Isabel Hofmeyr, Wendy Kozol and Patricia Seed, “AHR Conversation: on Transnational History”, The American Historical Review, 111, 5, 2006, p. 1441-1464.

6 Lynn Hunt, Writing History in the Global Era, W. W. Norton and Company, New York and London, 2015, p. 151. For an interesting discussion of experiences of collaboration in global history, see also Giorgio Riello, “La globalisation de l’Histoire globale: une question disputée”, Revue d’histoire moderne et contemporaine, 54-4bis, 5, 2007, p. 23-33, in particular p. 29-30.

7 For more on the GHC, see http://ghc.wp.ehess.fr/en/global-history-collaborative/ For a review in French of the summer school, see http://lettre.ehess.fr/index.php?9213

8 http://ghc.wp.ehess.fr/en/global-history-collaborative/

9 http://ghc.wp.ehess.fr/en/2014/12/27/first-summer-school-in-tokyo-sept-2015/

10 Detailed reports in Japanese and English of each session can be found at http://coretocore.ioc.u-tokyo.ac.jp/reports/2015/10/post-3.html

11 The GHC aims at “recasting global history as a global enterprise, creating a space for graduate students to formulate ideas and refine research strategies collaboratively across institutional boundaries and national traditions.” http://ghc.wp.ehess.fr/en/global-history-collaborative/

12 Dominic Sachsenmaier, Global Perspectives on Global History, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2011.

13 Paul-André Rosental, “Introduction: modèles, usages, effets du collectif dans les sciences sociales”, Les Cahiers du Centre de Recherches Historiques, “Archives”, 36, 2005, paragraphe 5.

14 http://ghc.wp.ehess.fr/en/2016/04/14/english-2015-tokyo-summer-school-follow-up-students-workshop/ For a detailed account of the Paris workshop, see http://coretocore.ioc.u-tokyo.ac.jp/reports/2016/04/ghc-global-history-collaborative-students-workshop-in-paris5-7-apr2016.html .

15 http://coretocore.ioc.u-tokyo.ac.jp/reports/2016/05/-the-ghc-summer-school-2016-report-day3.html .

16 Internet-based word processors were also tools that we used as a sort of forum/chat in order to exchange historiographical views about global history, given that we have different backgrounds in the field and felt the need to better understand what we were doing when we talked of “global history”.

17 On the role of synchronicity in comparative history see Marc Bloch “Pour une histoire comparée des sociétés européennes”, Revue de Synthèse Historique, 46, 1928, p. 15-50. On the question of comparison beyond the European boundaries and the possible ways to deal with “asymmetric” situations, see the Jean-Frédéric Schaub, “Survivre aux asymétries”, in Antoine Lilti, Sabina Loriga, Jean-Frédéric Schaub, and Silvia Sebastiani (eds), L’expérience Historiographique. Autour de Jacques Revel, Paris, Éditions de l’ÉHESS, 2016, p. 166-179.

18 These individual articles – “Re-examination of Maritime Prohibitions in East Asia in Seventeenth - Eighteenth Century” by Yongchao Cheng (Nagoya University) and “New History from Ancient Man: Paleoanthropology and the Politics of Universalism in UNESCO’s Scientific and Cultural History of Mankind” by Emily M. Kern (Princeton University) – have played an enormous part in the two-year-long process of elaboration of this dossier, deeply contributing to our collective reflection and collaboration.

19 Michael Werner and Bénédicte Zimmermann, “Penser l’histoire croisée: entre empirie et réflexivité, Thinking history from contrastive views: between empiry and reflexivity”, Annales. Histoire, Sciences Sociales, 2003, 58e année, p. 7-36.

20 Jürgen Kocka, in discussing comparative history, its difficulties and the seeming opposition with the proposals of connected history, entangled history or histoire croisée, concludes “[i]t is not necessary to choose between histoire comparée and histoire croisée. The aim is to combine them.” Jürgen Kocka, “Comparison and Beyond”, History and Theory, 42, 1, 2003, p. 39-44.

21 Lynn Hunt, Writing History in the Global Era, W. W. Norton and Company, New York and London, 2015, p. 151, p. 120. See also Bernhard Struck, Kate Ferris and Jacques Revel, “Introduction: Space and Scale in Transnational History”, The International History Review, 33, 4, 2011, p. 573-584, p. 576; and Sebouh David Aslanian, Joyce E. Chaplin, Ann McGrath and Kristin Mann, “AHR Conversation How Size Matters: The Question of Scale in History”, The American Historical Review, 118, 5, 2013, p. 1431-1472.

22 Jürgen Osterhammel claims that “one does not generally have to scale the ladder from the local to the global level. Instead, a historical analysis should begin from both ends at the same time”. Jürgen Osterhammel, “A ‘Transnational’ History of Society: Continuity or New Departure?”, in Heinz-Gerhard Haupt and Jürgen Kocka (eds), Comparative and Transnational History. Central European Approaches and New Perspectives, New York Oxford, Berghahn Books, 2009, p. 39-51, p. 43. In the last 15 years several journals have paid attention to the question of scales and transnational and global histories, through special issues or forums. For in-depth discussions, see “Une histoire à l’échelle globale”, Annales. Histoire, Sciences Sociales, 56, 1, 2001, p. 3-4; Caroline Douki and Philippe Minard (eds), “Histoire globale, histoires connectées un changement d’échelle historiographique?”, Revue d’Histoire Moderne et Contemporaine, 2007, 5, 54-4bis, p. 7-21; Christopher A. Bayly, Sven Beckert, Matthew Connelly, Isabel Hofmeyr, Wendy Kozol and Patricia Seed, “AHR conversation: on transnational history”, The American Historical Review, 111, 5, 2006, p. 1441-1464; Sebouh David Aslanian, Joyce E. Chaplin, Ann McGrath and Kristin Mann, “AHR Conversation How Size Matters: The Question of Scale in History”, The American Historical Review, 118, 5, 2013, p. 1431-1472.

23 Jacques Revel, “Micro history, macro history: what the variations in scale help to think in a globalized world”, Revista Brasileira de Educaçao, 2010, 15, 45, p. 434-444.

24 John Brewer and Silvia Sebastiani, “Forum: closeness and distance in the age of Enlightenment. Introduction”, Modern Intellectual History, 2014, 11, 03, p. 603-609, p. 608.

25 Silvia Sebastiani, “What constituted historical evidence of the New World? Closeness and distance in William Robertson and Francisco Javier Clavijero”, Modern Intellectual History, 2014, 11, 03, p. 677-695.

26 Jacques Revel, “Micro-analyse et construction du social”, in Jacques Revel (ed.), Jeux d’échelles. La micro-analyse à l’expérience, Paris, Gallimard Seuil, 1996, p. 15-36.

27 Jacques Revel, “Présentation”, in Jacques Revel (ed.), Jeux d’échelles. La micro-analyse à l’expérience, Paris, Gallimard Seuil, 1996, p. 7-14.

28 For an examination of the ways in which the questions of Italian microhistory can be useful for global history, see Francesca Trivellato, “Is There a Future for Italian Microhistory in the Age of Global History?”, California Italian Studies, 2011, 2, 1; See also Antonella Romano and Silvia Sebastiani (eds), La forza delle incertezze. Dialoghi storiografici con Jacques Revel, Bologna, Il Mulino, 2016.

29 On this point, see Antonella Romano, “Fabriquer l’histoire des sciences modernes: Rélexions sur une discipline à l’ère de la mondialisation”, Annales. Histoire, Sciences Sociales, 70année 2015, 2, p. 381-408, and Simon Schaffer, “Les cérémonies de la mesure”, Annales. Histoire, Sciences Sociales, 9 juillet 2015, 70e année, 2, p. 409-435. On the plurality of global perspectives throughout history from around the world see Sanjay Subrahmanyam, “Aux origines de l’histoire globale”, Leçon inaugurale au Collège de France, Collège de France/Fayard, Collection “Leçons inaugurales du Collège de France”, April 2014, 240.

30 John Brewer and Silvia Sebastiani, “Forum: closeness and distance in the age of Enlightenment. Introduction”, Modern Intellectual History, 2014, 11, 3, p. 603-609, p. 608-609.

31 See the special issue of the Revue d’Histoire Moderne et Contemporaine, “Le métier d’historien à l’ère numérique: nouveaux outils, nouvelle épistémologie?” 2011, 58, 4bis, and in particular Nicolas Delalande and Julien Vincent, “Portrait de l’historien-ne en cyborg”, p. 5-29, and Franziska Heimburger and Émilien Ruiz, “Faire de l’histoire à l’ère numérique : retours d’expériences”, p. 70-89.

32 For more on positionality and global history, see Dominic Sachsenmaier, Global Perspectives on Global History, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2011; and the GHC workshop “Is Global History Truly Global?” http://ghc.wp.ehess.fr/en/2014/11/16/berlin-workshop-is-global-history-truly-global-4-6-dec/ .

33 On the problems of English as a hegemonic academic language, see Dominic Sachsenmaier, Global Perspectives on Global History, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2011, p. 241-243.

34 Jeremy Adelman, Is global history still possible, or has it had its moment? | Aeon Essays, https://aeon.co/essays/is-global-history-still-possible-or-has-it-had-its-moment .

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Gabriela Goldin Marcovich, « On the potentialities (and limits) of collaboration in global history », L’Atelier du Centre de recherches historiques [En ligne], 18 | 2018, mis en ligne le 21 février 2018, consulté le 17 juin 2018. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/acrh/8074 ; DOI : 10.4000/acrh.8074

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Gabriela Goldin Marcovich

Gabriela Goldin is an alumna of the École Normale Supérieure and obtained a Master's in History at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, where she is currently a PhD candidate. Her work focuses on the Mexican Enlightenment and interrogates the production of knowledge in an urban context. Her dissertation researches the construction of the Mexican past and the representation of its enlightened present in the works of a generation of creole intellectuals living in Mexico City, Rome, and Bologna during the last decades of the Eighteenth century. E-mail: gabriela [point] goldin [arobase] ehess [point] fr

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L'Atelier du Centre de recherches historiques – Revue électronique du CRH est mis à disposition selon les termes de la licence Creative Commons Attribution - Pas d'Utilisation Commerciale - Pas de Modification 3.0 France.

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