European History after the Global Turn

Keynote Lecture (Virtual/Zoom) | Speaker: Sebastian Conrad (FU Berlin)

Keynote Lecture at the "4th West Coast Germanists’s Workshop: Global Germany" at UC San Diego.

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Over the past decades, the writing of European history—in both its incarnations, as the history of Europe, and as the histories of nations in Europe—has seen fundamental transformations. Though it has been adapted in different ways, the global turn has deeply affected the historiography produced in many European countries. On the one hand, crucial watersheds of European history have been reinterpreted as part of larger configurations, and as responses to global challenges. On the other, it is now clear that Europe’s claim to unity and cohesion was reinforced, not least, by observers from without. In the late nineteenth century, in societies across Latin America, Africa, and Asia, contemporaries began to refer to a “Europe” that was less a specific location than a product of the imagination; the result less of geography or culture than of global geopolitics. What emerges, then, is an understanding of the history of the continent that places it firmly in the context of global conjunctures and repeated moments of re-territorialization.

Sebastian Conrad holds the Chair of Modern History at the Free University of Berlin. He joined the faculty in 2010 after teaching for several years at the European University Institute in Florence. He was a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Berlin, a visiting professor at the École des Hautes Études in Paris, and a visiting scholar at the University of California, Santa Barbara; in the spring 2017, he held the Theodor Heuss Chair at the New School, New York. With a training in European and Japanese history, his work has focused mainly on issues of colonialism and postcolonialism, global history, and historiography/memory. Among his recent publications are What is Global History? (Princeton University Press) 2016; An Emerging Modern World, 1750-1870 (A History of the World, vol. 4), Cambridge, Mass. (The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press) 2018 (edited, together with Jürgen Osterhammel); and “Greek in Their Own Way: Writing India and Japan into the World History of Architecture at the Turn of the Twentieth Century,” American Historical Review 125.1 (2020): 19-53.