does it mean to internationalize H-Net?
by Robert Cherny, President-Elect, H-Net
its beginning, H-Net may have had greater international participation
in its activities, including governance, than any other US scholarly
society. For the past few years, the H-Net Council has seriously
discussed ways of promoting further internationalization. At the
same time, other academics in the US have also been discussing the
internationalization of their teaching and scholarship. Some of
their conclusions have implications for H-Net's efforts:
involves more than studying parts of the world other than our
means that the dialogue about a topic includes participation by
scholars from various places, not just the place being studied;
may mean broadening our approach to include a larger context or
international comparisons; and
need to consider the internet's potential for internationalizing
international is H-Net today?
1 (based on data from February 2002) suggests that current H-Net
networks address nearly every region and sub-region of the world,
and that a third of them are topical. Nonetheless, 54 out of 126
networks deal only with North America or Europe. Among the 43 topical
networks, most concentrate on North America, Europe, and Australia--or
even just on the US.
topical networks have worked at internationalization. Wendy Plotkin
of H-Urban told me what that network has done in this regard. Here's
a partial summary:
editors from outside of the US from an early stage and having
an international Editorial Advisory Board was important.
non-US editors sensitized the US editors to a greater international
seek to introduce international topics for discussion.
book review editor seeks non-US reviewers.
H-Urban website has a strong international emphasis.
has promoted off-list contact among US and non-US scholars.
are undoubtedly lessons here for all H-Net networks.
subscription list for HNET-Staff, our internal e-mail list for editors,
as of last February, indicates that 400+ receive e-mail from US-based
servers, 38 from western Europe, and 35 from Commonwealth nations.
There are one or more editors in Ghana, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Senegal,
Singapore, South Africa, Taiwan, and Zimbabwe. There are apparently
no H-Net editors in China, India, the Islamic world (other than
Ghana, Senegal, and Singapore), or Latin America south of Mexico.
at data from 26 networks with nearly 40,000 subscribers--one-fifth
of all networks and one-quarter of all subscribers. Among networks
with US topics, upwards of 90% of subscribers are from the US. Among
topical networks, US subscribers range from 70% to about 85%. Among
networks focused on regions of the world other than the US, most
have fewer than 70% of their subscribers from the US. The fewest
US subscribers appear on H-Canada (61% are in Canada), H-ANZAU (73%
are in Australia and New Zealand), H-Francais (conducted in French;
73% are in French-speaking nations), and H-Soz-u-Kult (conducted
in German; 77% are in German-speaking nations).
data suggest that language makes a difference. In addition, it is
clear that nearly all H-Net subscribers come from regions where
scholars have easy access to technology. Given the combination of
language and technology, it's not surprising that the US, western
Europe, Canada, and Australia dominate the lists of both subscribers
conclusion, I suggest that H-Net faces at least these challenges
as it seeks to increase participation by non-US scholars:
can scholars participate comfortably if their first language is
not the dominant language of the network? How can English-speaking
and non-English-speaking scholars participate comfortably in the
same scholarly dialogues?
there any way for H-Net to bridge the technology gap between scholars
with easy access to computers and the internet, and those scholars
who have no such easy access? How can H-Net reach scholars who
may not have regular or reliable access to a computer or to the
can topical networks do to increase the international components
of their activities?
can networks that focus solely on US topics do to increase participation
by non-US scholars in their activities?
here to read full version.
Cherny, President-Elect of H-Net, is at San Francisco State
University and is also List Editor for H-California, Advisory Board
Member for H-Labor, List Editor for H-SHGAPE, Advisory Board Member
2000: 19th International Congress of Historical Sciences
H-Net International Studies