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(Dis)connected history and the multiple narratives of global early modernity

Biedermann, Z; (2021) (Dis)connected history and the multiple narratives of global early modernity. Modern Philology , 119 (1) pp. 13-32.

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Abstract

This article queries the politics of writing about early modern connectivity today. Set against the combined backdrop of the global history boom of the past two decades and the recently emerging criticisms of its overemphasis on connectivity, it encourages political, cultural, and literary historians to ask questions about how we frame stories of cross-cultural encounter. The first part of the article calls for a vigorous enquiry into how exactly connections worked and failed to work, suggesting an explicit engagement with the notion of (dis)connectivity. Understanding and theorizing the breakdown of communications and the multiple ways in which cross-cultural communication could lead to conquest and colonial domination is central to this endeavor. In the second part of the article, I suggest that we sharpen our awareness of the methodological and ethical challenges inherent to our selecting of stories of (dis)connectivity from the historical record. Touching upon the current debate about sources and voices in Native American and Indigenous studies, I advocate for a hospitable accommodation of multiple narratives about early modern (dis)connections as historians of global early modernity seek not only to be heard by audiences across the globe, but engage with them in ethically sustainable intellectual exchanges. This article thus offers a constructive critique of the “connected history” paradigm in an attempt to improve its productivity and potential for debate.

Type: Article
Title: (Dis)connected history and the multiple narratives of global early modernity
Publisher version: https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/full/10.1086...
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the version of record. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > SELCS
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10132514
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