Global Microhistory

AHA Session 52
Friday, January 4, 2019: 8:30 AM-10:00 AM
Wabash Room (Palmer House Hilton, Third Floor)
Amy B. Stanley, Northwestern University
The East India Company’s Slaves
Jessica Hanser, Yale-NUS College
The Swedish Knitting Instructor of the Dzungar Court
Lisa Hellman, Freie Universität Berlin and Uppsala University
Polony and Gauvain: A Conversation off the African Coast
Anne Ruderman, London School of Economics and Political Science
The Audience

Session Abstract

In the early modern world, global commercial exchanges connected continents, linked merchant groups, moved goods and created webs of interdependent financial and cultural relationships. Cross-cultural commercial exchanges also placed a diverse groups of actors: merchants, pirates, convicts, persecuted religious minorities, and enslaved individuals - by no means the ‘big’ men and women of history - in far-flung locations. By focusing on individual actors and global commerce in the early modern era, our panel will investigate questions of scale in historical research and writing. It will also explore the possibilities of a relatively new methodology in history: global micro-history. Four decades after Carlo Ginzburg's The Cheese and the Worms, our panel will ask several methodological questions: What is the function and purpose of microhistory in the current era of 'big data'? What can this methodology contribute to world history? How can an examination of individuals and their cross-cultural relationships on the geographical margins of early modern empire illuminate otherwise abstract processes of economic change, imperial expansion and globalization?
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