From a theoretical point of view, the project contributes to global history in elaborating a transcultural impact in historiography. The monograph “Transcultural History” (Herren/Rüesch/Sibille, forthcoming 2011) discusses the results of a theoretical and methodological sea change of the discipline. The book asks to which extent global networks and the aspect of border crossing persons, concepts, objects might overcome methodological nationalism and the dominant narrative of Western concepts in the understanding of international politics. It combines theoretical reflections on the impact of transculturality with its methodological consequences and explains the inclusion of new source material. Moreover, the analysis of border crossing networks in the aftermath of World War I exemplifies the gain of knowledge in comparison to the state of the art of the discipline.
Secondly, the methodological output of the project is a database called LONSEA (http://www.lonsea.de/), launched as open access database in October 2010. This database substantiates border crossing networks which have proven to be theoretically useful (see for instance the work of Castells) but until now seemed too abstract for empirical historical research. The database starts an overview of ninety years of global governance by outlining a newly discovered characteristic of the League of Nations:, the League and its secretariat in Geneva functioned as a beehive: the rather small international administration was surrounded by a variety of different international associations, persons, and movements from all over the globe and with a substantial Asian participation. For political reasons, the League of Nations collected these activities in its regularly edited Handbooks of International Organisations, now included into LONSEA. Besides these Handbooks, the stafflists of the League are part of the database. They help to understand who, when, why and with what consequences global networks gained profile as institutions, functioned as personal relations, disappeared or prevailed in times of political tensions and economic crises. For the first time, the visibility of these networks also gives an insight in the raising interest of Asian actors and their global presence.
Besides presenting the theoretical and methodological consequences for historiography supplying an innovative methodological tool, the project reviews the merging of international/global with transcultural history in different case studies. Three PhD projects within A3 and one associated with the Graduate Programme confirm that the new approaches can be used to gain new evidences: Maya Okuda discusses the impact of cultural policy within the relations between Japan and the League of Nations Intellectual Cooperations programme. Takashi Saikawa (Graduate Programme) works on the League’s cultural programme as a political argument in the Chinese-Japanese relations. Cornelia Knab discusses with “Zoonoses, History and Risk Perception” the porosity of disciplinary and national borders and looks at the variety of stakeholder networks in the first half of the 20th century. Christiane Sibille conceptualises the global sound of music as a dense entanglement of musicians, musical research and highly politicised folk music research.
Conference "Networks in Times of Transition. Toward a Transcultural History of International Organisations
In October 2010, the new approach and the current research were presented to a multidisciplinary variety of experts working in the field of global governance, global and cultural history, anthropology, musicology, Asian studies, and the history of sciences in the US, Europe, India, China, and Japan. The results of the conference (planned to be published as edited volume for 2011) confirmed and strengthened a new form of disciplinary coherence and interest in research on border crossing, global networks. Beside other aspects, the community of researchers asked for a dynamic understanding of global governance and its inclusion in an economic rationale (Murphy) and a debate on the merging of culture and capitalism (Taylor). Moreover, different papers agreed in positioning previously fragmented topics in a global narrative (Amrith, Xu Guoqui), and highlighted the insights in cultural policy (Atsushi Shibasaki). In addition, thinking about the history of the academic disciplines played a major role in presenting new approaches (eg S. Kott, pointing on international organisations as observatories). Therefore, beyond the specific history of the League of Nations, the findings provide the necessary tools to understand networks on a global scale in their interaction or concurring to diplomacy.