The “Early Modern” in Global History
|Raum||A 320 Übungsraum (Koserstr. 20)|
The term “early modern” has several intersecting meanings. First, it is commonly used in various permutations, from the German “Frühe Neuzeit” to the Japanese “kinsei”, to mark off only partially congruent periods in national or regional histories. Second, in the form of “early modernity” or the plural “early modernities”, it has been deployed as a conceptual tool to think through the characteristics, spatial and temporal extension of what led up to, enabled or inhibited “modernity”. Third, the “early modern” has begun to appear in book titles to suggest a period of global interaction not yet marked by the later power imbalances of “modernity”, capitalism or imperialism. In this seminar, we will engage with the various meanings of the “early modern” and interrogate its analytical value. When did the “early modern” period begin in Europe or China and what criteria have historians used to decide this? What does it mean to claim that there were many renaissances, enlightenments or industrious revolutions? And was there a degree and quality of interaction in the sixteenth or seventeenth century worthy of the label “early globalization”? Specializing in an area of their choice, participants will compare regional conceptions of the period and confront them with broader world-historical notions and theoretical frameworks.