Right after our mind-drenching study circle in the global history laboratory here in Turku at the end of October 2018, I headed for another intellectually stimulating multi-disciplinary workshop hosted by the Bayreuth Academy of Advanced African Studies in Germany. While discussions at the study circle proceeded, my mind constantly circled around the global historian’s inescapable task of theorizing the ‘global’ in global history. The theorization would rightfully represent a valid starting point for thinking about broader spheres, scales, and themes in investigating global history.


Sauna and bathing in global history

Recently, at a conference, I presented on the history of Finnish folk medicine. After the talk, I got a question from the audience about the peculiarities of folk healing in Finland. Having spent a number of years studying African medical systems, I could only point to the similarities between Finnish and African folk remedies – the use of cupping horns, herbalism, and bone setting. However, someone suggested that sauna perhaps presents a Finnish specialty, and many in the audience seemed to accept this idea. I immediately started thinking about Amerindian sweat lodges and Turkish hammams. Steam cabinets were also used in precolonial Africa as a standard treatment for syphilis, as documented by Rømer on the Gold Coast in the mid-eighteenth century. In this blog post, I want to briefly touch upon the global history of sauna and bathing, which remains to be written in English. Continue reading “Sauna and bathing in global history”

Impressions of The Fifth European Congress on World and Global History, Budapest 31.8–3.9.2017

I recently had the pleasure of attending the fifth iteration of the European Congress on World and Global History, a symposium that is arranged every third year by the European Network in Universal and Global History (ENIUGH). The conference, held in Budapest and subtitled “Ruptures, Empires, Revolutions”, was a testament to the enduring attraction of the global perspective among scholars of history, as evidenced by roughly 150, each with their own take on how to approach the study of history in a global way. Organized into eight sets of parallel panels, the conference proceedings ran over four days, punctuated by roundtables summarizing the themes thus far, a reception, a concert, and a dinner cruise along the Danube. Continue reading “Impressions of The Fifth European Congress on World and Global History, Budapest 31.8–3.9.2017”

Space in the Future of Forests – The case of the Sahara

I have recently made an infographic video on “Forests as the Lungs of the Planet” in which I talk about the consequences of human action in the present on the future by thinking in ‘Forest Tense’. However, while at the just concluded LocGlob(Locating the Global) workshop which took place in Åbo Akademi Turku(15-16 June, 2017), a presentation by a colleague, Laura Hollsten on ‘Environmental Pessimism’ as a definitive schema for articulating space began a stirring of the environmental pessimist in me – most especially the one who designed the Forest infographic. Continue reading “Space in the Future of Forests – The case of the Sahara”

Lost inside the “brain” of Ho Chi Minh

In 2015 I visited Hanoi and the mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh. Because I had visited Beijing and the mausoleum of Mao, I had an idea of what to expect. The procedure in Ho Chi Minh mausoleum was indeed set in a very similar setting. This review, however, will not focus on the mausoleum, but instead on the enormous building located next to it. Namely, a museum dedicated to Ho Chi Minh in its entirety. The building in its grandiosity did not remind me of any museum I had visited before, and deviated from all conceptions I had of what a museum should look like. The spatial experience inside made me challenge my conception of “normal” and enter a socially controlled normalization of an “other” space I wasn’t accustomed to. Reflecting on Edward Soja’s and Michel Foucault’s take on museums as heterotopias (spaces that contain several different layers of spaces and slices of time), I also found that I had arrived at a “crossroads of space and time”. Continue reading “Lost inside the “brain” of Ho Chi Minh”

“Africa is the continent of death” – Pessimistic realizations and future visions

Last year I was invited to return to Ghana. I hadn’t been there for a decade. Although I had continued to read and write about Africa, my focus had been more on a macro-level (global) perspective than a local one. Africa in global history; Africa as part of processes of globalization; portals and ports of globalization in Africa. Africans as actors and agents of globalization but also its victims. Continue reading ““Africa is the continent of death” – Pessimistic realizations and future visions”

Conceptualising a global history of healing

In this blog post, me and my colleague Markku Hokkanen share our thoughts on writing medical history from a global history perspective. We have recently completed editing a book titled Kiistellyt tiet terveyteen (Contested Ways to Health, Finnish Literature Society, forthcoming in 2017), in which we examine healing from a cultural and social perspective in global history.

Continue reading “Conceptualising a global history of healing”

Kaarle Wirta

Hi there! Welcome my introductory blog post,

In this first blog post, I wanted to share some thoughts about who I am and why I am interested in global history, as well as to present some of my research interests. In future posts, I will focus more on topics related to my various interests regarding global history. Usually when I start a new book, I like to start by reading the acknowledgments of the author in order to become better acquainted with the author’s thought process behind the book. In my view it is always nice to gain a bit of personal flavour, in order to gain a more personal connection with the author. For that reason, this first blog is my invitation to you to get acquainted with my background as a scholar.

Continue reading “Kaarle Wirta”