Title Theories of Global and Trans-cultural History
Duration Late-August to late-November
Instructor Dominic Sachsenmaier

Course description

This seminar provides an overview of important theoretical approaches to global connections and global history. The first part of the course discusses various schools of thought and historical stages of conceptualizing global transformations, worldwide interdependencies, and the “modern condition.” The readings of this part include, for example, Marxist, liberal-progressivist, post-colonial and other theories of global connections from a wide range of academic fields. Building on these theoretical fundaments, the second part of the course investigates important ways of writing and researching trans-cultural and global history. In this context it also considers the recent methodological and conceptual debates among researchers in the field.

An important aspect of the course is its trans-cultural dimension. Very often surveys of global theory and global history focus exclusively on Western approaches, and they completely disregard concepts and debates originating from outside the West. This is particularly problematic in a field such as trans-cultural and global history because here ignoring approaches from other parts of the world carries the danger of ascribing a hegemonic intellectual position to Western debates. As an alternative to this trend, this course covers literature from different parts of the world, and it particularly considers Chinese theories and debates. However, students do not need to have any background knowledge about China in order to be able to take this course. 

Our course will be held as a regular graduate course but for three weeks the class assignments will have a rather unusual format. Fudan University in Shanghai and the University of Leipzig/Germany have both agreed to hold parallel English-speaking graduate seminars on related topics. During three of our meetings (October 18th, November 1st, and November 15th) the literature assigned to this course will be the same for the three courses. This enables students to engage in online discussions about such important issues as Eurocentrism, the international hierarchies still characterizing the global sociology of academic knowledge, or the potential role of historians/academics in a global civil society.

Class Picture


Amy Williams, Laura Premack, Stephen Isernhagen, Dasa Mortesen, Justin Ward, Amy Mungur, Prof. Dominic Sachsenmaier, I-Wen Chiu, YH (From Left to Right)


  1. Introduction
  2. Department
  3. Chat
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About the Duke University

Duke University is a private coeducational research university located in Durham, North Carolina, USA. Founded by Methodists and Quakers in the present-day town of Trinity in 1838, the school moved to Durham in 1892. In 1924, tobacco industrialist James B. Duke established The Duke Endowment, prompting the institution to change its name in honor of his deceased father, Washington Duke. The university ranked eighth in its undergraduate division nationwide also have the medical, law and business school among the top 11 in the country. Duke also has the national renowned athletic teams - the Blue Devils, have captured nine national championships, three in men's basketball.