Transparent Global History? The Contribution of Vienna Global Studies

in Historical Reflections/Réflexions Historiques
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Since the 1980s faculty and visiting lecturers at the University of Vienna, have collaborated on and contributed to various study programs and publications in global history and international development. This article explores how the desire to make these writings accessible to a broad spectrum of reading publics has combined with a specific interest in writing emancipatory rather than conservative and affirmative history. I argue that some of the professional dangers associated with writing global history—sometimes read by, and often directed to, less specialist audiences—are much more universal problems of historiography than many would think. Historians with a globalist agenda tend to be particularly well equipped to deal with these problems. This article explores how a number of writings emerging from the Vienna context have handled these problems and sought to combine transparency with accessibility. It also discusses some of the institutional and political contexts that have sustained the particular features of Vienna Global History, and some of the more problematic or ambiguous traits and critical evaluations of the Vienna enterprise.