3rd Summer Academy of Atlantic History. Lauric Henneton, Institut d'Etudes Culturelles, Université de Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines; Susanne Lachenicht, Lehrstuhl für Geschichte der Frühen Neuzeit, Universität Bayreuth; Claudia Schnurmann, Arbeitsbereich Außereuropäische Geschichte, 25.08.2013-29.08.2013.
Reviewed by Julien Bérard
Published on H-Soz-u-Kult (October, 2013)
3rd Summer Academy of Atlantic History
Founded in 2009 by Lauric Henneton (Versailles-Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines) and Susanne Lachenicht (Bayreuth), the Summer Academy of Atlantic History's (SAAH) aim is to bring together scholars of Atlantic History on the European side of the Atlantic and to provide a platform for young European and American researchers to discuss their work in progress with established scholars both from the Americas and Europe. "Circuits of Knowledge in the Atlantic world" were to explore how the many Atlantic worlds were connected to each other by looking at aspects of the emergence, transformation and exchange of knowledge and considering the building of networks, of communication and transport systems, letter writing and correspondence between the 15th and the 19th century.
For the first time, this year's SAAH featured the NICHOLAS CANNY PRIZE for Best Paper and Presentation at the Summer Academy of Atlantic History. Named after Professor NICHOLAS CANNY (Galway), Member of the Scientific Committee of the European Research Council (ERC, Brussels), former President of the Royal Irish Academy, corresponding member of the British Academy and Founding Director of the Moore Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences (National University of Ireland, Galway), next to Professor Bernard Bailyn (Cambridge, MA) and Professor Jack P. Greene (Baltimore) one of the most prominent protagonists in the field of Atlantic History, the prize honors Nicholas Canny's outstanding achievements and work in British, Irish, Atlantic, American and European History and his on-going support for young researchers in the field. Oxford University Press, New York, donates the prize.
KAREN ORDAHL KUPPERMAN (New York) opened this year's SAAH with her keynote address on"“Music as Universal Language in the Atlantic World". She postulated that, in the early modern period, European, Native American and African people understood music as a universally understood language which served to understand God's creation. For early contacts in the Americas, Kupperman demonstrated that music was frequently used to communicate friendship, enmity or mourning in ceremonies, commerce and warfare. Furthermore, she showed how European scholars started to search for a musical and universally intelligible language in theoretical and methodical ways.
Having qualified through a Call for Papers and a selection process which included a review of the submitted proposals by the SAAH's steering committee consisting of Nicholas Canny, Bernard Bailyn, Philip D. Morgan (Baltimore), Ben Marsh (Stirling), Trevor Burnard (Melbourne), Susanne Lachenicht, Lauric Henneton and Lou Roper (New York), the 2013 edition of the SAAH featured eight doctoral students coming from Yale, Johns Hopkins, Georgetown, Genoa, Bayreuth, Galway, Columbia universities and from Boston College.
In the first doctoral student presentation, ILARIA BERTI (Genoa) claimed that food may be used as a lens through which typical aspects of colonial encounters can be reconstructed. Her research centers on the reaction of European travelers when facing new and different kinds of food, on the modification of food perceptions across time and on the relevance of food creolization in the building of identities in the 18th century Caribbean. In his comment, Trevor Burnard stressed the importance of dramatically changing food consumption habits and cooking methods. He also pointed out that not only different kinds of food, but also its abundance and scarcity should be understood as indicators and as symbolic expression of belonging to a specific social group.
KATHERINE E. ARNER (Baltimore) argued that the spread of yellow fever caused by the Atlantic Revolutions generated a new medical culture within the Atlantic world, which she ventured to call "The Republic of Fever". This Republic was characterized trough new transnational intellectual networks, bodies of knowledge and ideas about cultural belonging, which led to a historical shift from local/national to global approaches in medicine and disease control. Commenting, SARAH BARBER (Lancaster) expressed the necessity to explain and underline the claimed novelty of those networks and medical approaches. She also stressed the importance of establishing clear definitions regarding terms like "Republic of Fever".
Under the Title "Knowledge and Correspondence Networks", CLAUDIA SCHNURMANN (Hamburg) initiated the Atlantic world discussion group introducing two of her local PhD students, who in turn presented their research projects. WANJA KUTTNER (Hamburg) intends to explore the flow of newly derived scientific information produced during the 17th century Dutch expansion in Asia by studying the German physician and polymath Engelbert Kaempfer. CHRISTINA URBANEK (Hamburg) presented her PhD thesis, which is part of a larger research project on Atlantic correspondence networks. DFG-Projekt Atlantische Korrespondenz: Genese und Transformation deutsch-amerikanischer Netzwerke 1740-1870. Her investigation concentrates on George Ticknor and George Bancroft. Both of them used those opportunities to build scholarly networks, which they maintained after their return to America.
The aim of CRAIG GALLAGHER's (Boston) dissertation is to analyze the communication and mercantile networks of Covenanting Presbyterian Scotts living within the Atlantic world between 1660 and 1730. To do so, he chose to employ a diasporic perspective emphasizing the religious aspects of the Scottish diaspora. His endeavor consists mainly in the reconstruction of the activities, contacts and beliefs of those scattered Scots. In his comment, Nicholas Canny welcomed that Gallagher included a religious dimension to his merchants' networks. Furthermore, Canny stressed the necessity to include Ireland in the investigation, as it was a land of predilection for Scottish immigration.
JORDAN BUCHANAN SMITH (Washington, DC) concerned himself with the material and intellectual conditions of rum production in the 17th and 18th century Atlantic world. In order to do so, he proposed two new approaches to the history of rum; firstly, the agency of subaltern producers in the rum-making process and secondly, the knowledge transfer between European, Caribbean and American sites of production, which enables to study rum as an Atlantic rather than a local commodity. Subsequently, OWEN STANWOOD (Boston) mentioned the manifold potential of such a research project, but also pointed out some central difficulties. The concept of agency may prove difficult to apply on Caribbean slaves.
HERMANN WELLENREUTHER (Göttingen) provided the second keynote lecture on "Interdependency, Interaction and Communication as Key Terms of Atlantic History". Encompassing the present state of historiography of the Atlantic world, he underlined its original euro-centricity, deriving from the European Imperial states' attempts at dominating new continents. Wellenreuther examined complex layers of interdependency and interaction in the Atlantic world, pointing to the problems in regulating trade and commerce by complex legal systems, destined to nationalize the Atlantic space and to establish control overseas. He raised awareness for the nature and ways of communication that occurred in the Atlantic world, making control of the overseas empires difficult and challenging the idea of an Atlantic dominated by empires.
In his paper, ASHEESH KAPUR SIDDIQUE (New York) proposed to track the process of the imperial unmaking and making of the late 18th century British Empire. He affirmed that the changing of governance strategy in the British Atlantic emanated from particular practices of knowledge management, which he subsumed under the term "paperwork". He also emphasized the role Enlightenment intellectuals played in this process pointing out the success but also the failure of their knowledge mediation. DAVID L. SMITH (Cambridge) qualified his project as an ambitious research of wide intellectual range. He indicated, however, the necessity to explore the links between governance strategy and paperwork more deeply and to define the relations between paperwork and Enlightenment in more precise a way.
IDA FREDERICA PUGLIESE (Florence) presented her post-doctoral research project that aims at analyzing 18th century questionnaires as a technique for gathering, managing, disseminating, and also manipulating information. In order to do so, she has chosen to concentrate on specific and representative case-studies using multidisciplinary and transnational approaches, which are rooted in historical research, sociology, literary studies, and information studies. Lauric Hennton stressed the significance of censorship, bias, and of logistical problems related to this kind of information gathering. Besides, he indicated the importance of justifying and explaining the concrete usefulness of the multidisciplinary approach she proposed and the gains in historical understanding it will provide.
To raise the question of where Atlantic History is currently headed, the convenors invited the attendants to participate in a round table on "Atlantic History Between Area Studies and Global History". Participants of the round table were Nicholas Canny, BARTOLOMÉ YUN CASALILLA (Florence), TREVOR BURNARD (Melbourne) and, as external guest, MATTHIAS MIDDELL (Leipzig) and Susanne Lachenicht. In his statement, Nicholas Canny stressed the importance to understand Atlantic History not as an adding up of discrete national entities but rather as a study of a plentitude of interests. He raised awareness for the need to communicate findings not only to the community of Atlantic scholars but to all (historical) scholars so that Atlantic history could be integrated e.g. into the study of European state development. Trevor Burnard gave the attendants some fodder for thought by citing criticism raised by Australian scholars, namely that Atlantic History could be perceived as eurocentrism in a new form, studying only migration patterns from the East, not from the West. Matthias Middell raised several questions pertinent to the self-understanding of Atlantic History. He also included in his statement a brief historical overview of the development of area studies as an academic subject as well as their recent make-over into global studies or global history, asking how Atlantic history related to this. In the final statement, Bartholomé Yun Casalilla picked up on some of the points Matthias Middell had raised and painted a vivid picture of what Atlantic history could mean for global history, namely for the role of the Atlantic in globalization processes. In the ensuing discussion, particularly the question of methodology was raised and answered controversially.
In the final panel, ANNE SOPHIE OVERKAMP (Bayreuth) presented a spin-off from her doctoral project, presenting the merchant-manufacturer Abr. & Gebr. Frowein from a backcountry town (Elberfeld) as a player in the Atlantic. She made clear how Frowein entered Atlantic trade in the 1770s, how he managed to build an impressive commission network along the North and South American coasts by the early nineteenth century. She stressed in particular the different sources of knowledge open to Frowein and how the quality of knowledge available in the backcountry improved over time. In his comment, Bartholomé Yun Casalilla raised awareness to the fact that two histories are being told, namely a continental and Atlantic one, and that there were several options for developing the topic such as new institutions economy, Atlantic history from below or the influence on Atlantic consumer cultures.
ALYSSA ZUERCHER REICHARDT (New Haven) then presented first findings from her project on "French, British, and Iroquois Imperial Communication Networks and the Contest for the Ohio Valley", showing how knowledge on the Ohio valley was circulated in British and French newspapers. The comment by Hermann Wellenreuther as well as the ensuing discussion raised the question of possible sources, particularly pertaining to Iroquois communication networks. The question of the differing quality of infrastructure showed itself also to be a particularly intriguing one to the audience.
Instead of a general wrap-up, organisers Lauric Henneton and Susanne Lachenicht were particularly pleased to grant for the first time the Nicholas-Canny-Prize. The jury consisting of all keynote speakers, tutors and the organizers decided to award the prize to Anne Sophie Overkamp for her outstanding paper and presentation.
Karen O. Kupperman (New York): Music and Universal Language in the Early Modern Atlantic
Illaria Berti (Genoa): European Colonizer and Caribbean Colonized. Identity and Creolisation of Food Consumption Patterns in the 18th Century
Comment: Trevor Burnard (Melbourne)
Katherine E. Arner (Baltimore): Republic of Fever. Commerce, Warfare and the Making of Warm Climate medicine in the Age of Atlantic Revolution
Comment: Sarah Barber (Lancaster)
Atlantic World Discussion Group: Claudia Schnurmann (Hamburg): Knowledge and Correspondence Networks
Craig Gallagher (Boston): Scottish Merchants and Knowledge in the Early Modern Atlantic World
Comment: Nicholas Canny (Galway)
Jordan Buchanan Smith (Washington, DC): Liquor and Knowledge Transfer in Europe, Africa, and the Americas
Comment: Owen Stanwood (Boston)
Hermann Wellenreuther (Göttingen): Interdependency, Interaction, and Communication as Key Terms of Atlantic History
Asheesh Kapur Siddique (New York City): Daring to Ask. The Questionnaire and the Problem of Knowledge in the Late 18th Century British Atlantic Enlightenment
Comment: David L. Smith (Cambridge)
Ida Federica Pugliese (Galway): The Asymmetric Dimension of Enlightenment Circulation of Knowledge. Atlantic Questionnaires in the 18th Century
Comment: Lauric Henneton (Versailles-St. Quentin-en-Yvelines)
Roundtable on Atlantic History between Area Studies and Global History: Nicholas Canny (Galway), Susanne Lachenicht (Bayreuth), Matthias Middell (Leipzig), Bartolomé Yun Casalilla (Florence), Trevor Burnard (Melbourne)
Anne Sophie Overkamp (Bayreuth) : An Eldorado of the Industrious, a Zion of the Pious. Middling Classes of Elberfeld and Barmen Around 1800 in their Global context
Comment: Bartolomé Yun Casalilla (Florence)
Alyssa Zuercher Reichardt (New Haven): French, British and Indiginous Imperial Communication Networks in the Contest for the Ohio Valley and North America, 1739-1768
Comment: Hermann Wellenreuther (Göttingen)
If there is additional discussion of this review, you may access it through the network, at: http://hsozkult.geschichte.hu-berlin.de/.
Julien Bérard. Review of , 3rd Summer Academy of Atlantic History.
H-Soz-u-Kult, H-Net Reviews.
Copyright © 2013 by H-Net, Clio-online, and the author, all rights reserved. This work may be copied and redistributed for non-commercial, educational purposes, if permission is granted by the author and usage right holders. For permission please contact H-SOZ-U-KULT@H-NET.MSU.EDU.