January 2006


Introduction Initial Contributions Discussion Reviews & Bibliography



The terms “transnational” and “transnationalism” may have replaced “identity” as key concepts in scholarly research in the humanities and social sciences. As Johannes Paulmann's recently noted on H-Soz-und-Kult in his review of Conrad and Osterhammel’s edited volume Das Kaiserreich Transnational, the term appears so attractive because it seems theoretically and methodologically sound, while also linked to current issues and policies related to the processes of globalization. [1] The term expands upon the concept of identity (and its older cousin, modernity) by addressing subjectivity as well as the importance of cross-border interaction, while also inherently questioning the coherent narrative of the nation-state.

The popularity of the term was reflected at the recent GSA conference in Milwaukee, where transnationalism (along with interdisciplinarity) served as a thematic umbrella for a variety of panels that focused on such issues as national identity, tourism and exoticism, the Cold War, protest, counter-narratives and the Black experience, border crossing, and imperial dynamics. Yet it still remains to be seen whether scholars of Germany and of German will embrace the term as enthusiastically as American Studies has (where scholars speak of a “transnational turn”) [2], or if transnationalism remains an unrealized and marginalized space as both an indigenous category and an analytical tool. [3] We should furthermore take seriously the question of whether transnationalism offers new insights, or whether it is simply old wine in new bottles, describing in trendier terms what older tools handily explained. If transnationalism is new both as an area of historical research and as a historiographical approach, we should perhaps ask ourselves the ways in which its novelty challenges older interpretations and approaches.

In order to explore the question of how transnationalism can help scholars of Germany in their understanding of the past and present, the editors are pleased to announce the launch of a January 2006 forum on the topic. We have asked a diplomatic historian, a Germanist, and a social and cultural historian to present short thought pieces on how the concept shapes research within their specific fields. As with previous forums in the past, these initial contributors – Ronald Granieri, Nina Berman, and Young-Sun Hong -- will start off with a series of commentaries. Konrad Jarausch and Jennifer Jenkins will then respond to these contributions, whereupon members may participate in considering the historical and historiographical implications of this term.

The contributors, along with their institutional affiliations, are listed below, and we have also provided a few key texts that may serve as a foundation for further discussion. We look forward to a productive exchange and welcome any comments, criticisms, or suggestions that you might have.


Susan Boettcher
Eve Duffy
Christopher Fischer
Will Gray
David Imhoof
Paul Steege
H-German Editors


1. Johannes Paulmann: Rezension zu: Conrad, Sebastian; Jürgen Osterhammel (Hrsg.): Das Kaiserreich transnational. Deutschland in der Welt 1871 - 1914. Göttingen 2004. In: H-Soz-u-Kult, 15.09.2005,

2. Shelley Fisher Fishkin, “Crossroads of Cultures: The Transnational Turn in American Studies – Presidential Address to the American Studies Association, November 12, 2004 ,” American Quarterly, Volume 57, Number 1, March 2005, pp. 17-57.

3. Vanessa Ogle, “Transnationale Geschichte,” Historisches Forum, Volume 4,


Initial Contributions

Ronald J. Granieri, University of Pennsylvania, "Crossing Borders: Transnationalism, Diplomatic History, and the Future of German Studies"

Nina Berman, Ohio State University, "Transnationalism and German Studies"

Young-Sun Hong, State University of New York , Stony Brook, "The Challenge of Transnational History"

Konrad H. Jarausch, University of North Carolina , Chapel Hill, "Reflections on Transnational History"

Jennifer Jenkins, University of Toronto, "Transnationalism and German History"


Friday, 20 January 2006
  Andrew Gow Re: FORUM: Berman on Transnationalism and German Studies


Monday, 23 January 2006
  Charles Maier Re: FORUM: "Reflections on Transnational History," Konrad H. Jarausch view
Tuesday, 24 January 2006
  Jonathan Sperber Re: Transnational forum view
  Will Gray Re: Transnationalism forum view
  Andrew Gow Re: Transnational forum view
  Shelley Rose Re: Transnationalism Forum on H-German [Rose] view

Reviews and suggested readings

Links to relevant H-German Posts and Reviews

Michael Geyer's 2006 GSA talk (Pittsburgh, PA): "Where Germans Dwell"

Rita Chin on Betigul Ercan Argun, Turkey in Germany

Andrew Deviny on Hermann, et. al, Transnational Identities

Glenn Penny on Brandon Ruud, Karl Bodmer's North American Prints

Thomas W. Gijswijt on McCarthy, et. al, The Many Faces of Germany

Eve Rosenhaft on recent titles about Africans in Germany

Jeffrey Jurgens on Brett Klopp, German Multiculturalism

Bas van Heuer on Ramet and Crnkovic, Kazaaam! Splat! Ploof! The American Impact on European Popular Culture since 1945

Suggested further reading:

Castles, Stephen: Citizenship and migration: globalization and the politics of belonging. NY 2000.

Conrad, Sebastian; Jürgen Osterhammel (Hrsg.): Das Kaiserreich transnational. Deutschland in der Welt 1871 - 1914. Göttingen 2004.

Frevert, Ute: “Europeanizing Germany’s Twentieth Century,” History and Memory: Studies in Representation of the Past, vol.17, no. 1 (Fall 2005), 87-116.

Palumbo-Lui, David and Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht: Streams of Cultural Capital: Transnational Cultural Studies. Stanford 1997.

Seyhan, Azade, "From Istanbul to Berlin : Stations on a Road to a Transcultural/Translational Literature," German Politics & Society, Vol. 23, No. 1 (Spring 2005): 152-170.


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