A Prehistory of the Global Present: Processes ‒ Actors ‒ Practices ‒ Ideas

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CfP: A Prehistory of the Global Present: Processes ‒ Actors ‒ Practices ‒ Ideas

Conveners: Martin Deuerlein (Tübingen); Andreas Plöger (Bonn); Johannes Großmann (Tübingen)

Location: Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen, Germany

Date: October 6th‒7th, 2022

Deadline: May 30th, 2022

Many observers regard the profound and extensive interdependence of economies and societies as a central characteristic of the 21st century. Such interconnections range from global supply chains and the mobility of capital and people to the almost simultaneous availability of information anywhere in the world. In short, since the 1990s, we have supposedly been living in a global present, which commentators have described as a new “age of globalization” after the end of the Cold War.

The interpretation of such processes of growing interconnections and their concrete social, cultural, and political ramifications, however, is the subject of intensive debates in various academic disciplines, in politics, and in the public sphere. While “globalization” initially appeared to be an almost irresistible process, scholars have now come to believe that it is driven by actors, constructed by interpretations, and is thus shaped by political decisions as well. At the same time, historians emphasize that processes of growing interdependence do not constantly accelerate and intensify, but rather, like their interpretations, proceed in waves, alternating with phases of disentanglement and deceleration. Therefore, a prehistory of the global present cannot look at the 1990s and succeeding decades only, when contemporaries once again postulated the novelty of such processes, but must embed them in the longue dureé.

The “long 1970s” in particular have come into focus both on the level of structural processes as well as for their interpretation as a hinge decade and a kind of new “Sattelzeit” (adapting Reinhart Koselleck’s term). The workshop will therefore shed light on the prehistory of our global present, especially since the last third of the 20th century, but will also take earlier periods into account if thematically required. We want to trace formative processes of interconnection and disentanglement, that are not limited to economic phenomena. At the same time, the workshop will historicize contemporary interpretations that viewed “globalization” as a promise or a threat, and thereby prefigured political, cultural, and societal responses.

From the perspective of different disciplines in the social sciences and humanities, we will consider not only processes of entanglement and acceleration, but also barriers, ruptures, decelerations, and disconnectivity. The workshop will place particular emphasis on the interaction of processes and interpretations of “globalization”. Finally, the predominance of the North Atlantic region will be decentered, and the roles of Asian, African, and Latin American countries and protagonists in and for globalization will be investigated.

Our goal is to contribute to a prehistory of our global present. This approach can foster a better understanding of current problems and, at the same time, complement and critically question Eurocentric or “Western” perspectives.

We invite contributions that focus on – but are not limited to ‒ the following topics:

- The history of processes of interconnection and disentanglement, flows and barriers, spaces and phases of globalization and deglobalization.

- Specific actors as producers of globality, e.g. global corporations, migrant workers, etc.

- Questions of political management of global interconnections: De-regulation, global governance, anti-globalization movements and alter-globalists.

- Actors outside the North Atlantic region: the People’s Republic of China, the states of the Asia-Pacific region, the place of the countries of the Global South in globalization, etc.

- World-making, interpretations of interdependence and globalization, and the intellectual production of globality.

- Methodological issues in the study of globalization processes and in a prehistory of the present: sources, measurability, visualization, etc.

- Periodization: When does “the present” start? Which potential caesurae are to be considered in writing a history of our time? Which elements dominate current master narratives?

We welcome historically oriented contributions from all subjects of the social and cultural sciences and related academic fields. Keynote addresses will be given by Prof. Glenda Sluga (EUI Florenz) and Prof. James Mark (University of Exeter).

We invite proposals with an abstract (ca. 250 words, in English or German) and a short CV by May 20th, 2022 to martin.deuerlein@uni-tuebingen.de. Papers will be selected by the end of May 2022.

Presentations are scheduled for 20 minutes. Expenses for travel and accommodation will be covered for presenters. The workshop is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Science as part of the Excellence Strategy of the German Federal and State Governments.

Contact Info: 

Martin Deuerlein, Seminar for Contemporary History, University of Tübingen, Germany

Categories: CFP