School of Humanities and Social Science
HISTORY SEMINAR SERIES – 2009
Reflections on the transnational turn in United States history: theory and practice
Friday, 12 June
10am to 11am
(with morning tea/coffee afterwards)
Cultural Collections Reading Room (near the Information Common),
Level 2, Auchmuty Library, Callaghan Campus
This paper situates the idea of ‘transnational history’ within the recent historiography of the United States, as both a reaction against and accommodation to the nation-state focus of that historiography. It explains transnational history’s specific American development as a broad project of research to contextualize US history and decentre the nation; explores the conditions of American historical practice that influenced the genesis and growth of this version of transnational history; and compares the concept with competitor terms such as international history; comparative history, global history; histoire croisée; and trans-border. In the United States, transnational history came to be considered complementary to these concepts in its commitment to render American historiography less parochial, yet the concept has remained, because of its origins, limited in application by period and spatial scope. While the concept retains utility because of its specific research program to denaturalize the nation, transnational history understood as an exploration of ‘transnational spaces’ opens possibilities for an approach of more general historiographical relevance.
Ian Tyrrell is Scientia Professor of History at the University of New South Wales. His most recent book is Transnational Nation: United States History in Global Perspective since 1789 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2007); and has due for publication in 2010 a book on Transnational Reform Networks and American Empire. He was (1991 to 1996) editor of the Australasian Journal of American Studies.