Autumn School “Vormoderne Globalgeschichte”, Bonn, 16 to 20 September 2013
From 16 to 20 September, the Annemarie-Schimmel-Kolleg hosted by the University of Bonn convened an autumn school on the topic of “Pre-Modern Global History”. The school assembled 15 junior researchers and graduating MA students the great majority of whom had a background in Islamic Studies.
The school started from the double observation that most research which might be categorized as Global History deals with rather contemporary issues and that there are hardly any contributions to the field by historians and scholars with necessary expertise, especially language skills and, consequently, acquaintance with sources originating from geographical regions other than western Europe.
Based on this, participants discussed several theoretical and methodological questions related to the concept of a global history of the pre-modern era. From a methodological perspective, strong emphasis was placed on comparisons and transfers of various kinds; this applies to the discussions of relevant texts as well as to model research projects which the participants devised. From a theoretical perspective, little agreement could be reached as to the usefulness, workability and actual object of Global History, in particular regarding pre-modern times.
A question that turned up repeatedly in relevant texts and in discussions was in what ways Global History might possibly be distinct from approaches which go by names such as World History or History of Globalization. In most studies conceived as World or Global History and devoting some attention to the pre-modern era, the Mongol Empire would in fact be presented as initiating an important stage of globalization.