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Adjusting the Focus: Scales, Spaces and Trajectories in European History

14th Annual Graduate Conference in European History (GRACEH)

Readjustments of scale continuously challenge established narratives in history. Which approaches have historians taken to tackle this issue? In 1967, Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie famously divided his colleagues into two categories: truffle hunters and parachutists. More than fifty years later this rigid distinction might seem like a tired cliché.  All parachutists, after all, must safely land on the ground, while even the most talented truffle hunters need to take their eyes off the forest floor at some point.

Nowadays, historians carefully choose and combine various scales, from the global to the local, in their research. The act of zooming in and out between them allows us to fundamentally change our notions of space. Whereas we used to look at spaces – in the widest sense of the word – as fixed areas, delimited by a number of easily identifiable fence-posts, they increasingly appear to us as a set of blurred boundaries, constantly eluding our attempts to pin them down. Adjusting our focus to such ambivalent and contradictory spaces allows us to discern trajectories inside and across them which would have otherwise remained hidden from view. Following these trajectories can lead us to reveal networks which operate in hitherto invisible spaces, giving us a different perspective on supposedly fixed categories. By changing the scale, movement may emerge where before only stasis was visible, and fluidities may appear where previously only certainty was found.

What kind of questions arise for historians as a result of adjusting the scale? How do these questions influence the way we engage with spaces and trajectories? The 14th Annual Graduate Conference in European History invites participants to discuss these and other related questions. We welcome submissions on topics including, but not limited to:

Fields of research include, but are not limited to:

– Defining scales in historical research: Micro, Meso, Macro
– The Global in Microhistory, the Micro in Global history
– Following personal trajectories to decentre master narratives
– Transcending spatial and social boundaries
– People, ideas and objects in motion
– Networks of power, information, and technology
– Transcultural and/or transnational spaces
– Fluidity across historical categories: Gender, Race, Class
– Reconceptualizing the relationship between public and private spheres
– The Spatial turn and its influence on historical method and theory

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