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”
From a personal point of view, what inspired me to read more about global history was an early exposure to spatial theories, deconstructionism and the notion that the world is made out of a web on which vibrations may resonate across the whole globe.
Inspired by space
About a year ago my colleagues and I decided to establish the Global History Laboratory. It was at a point when I had reached a crossroads in my own attempt to locate and position myself as a global historian. I had witnessed the expansion of global history as a vibrant and exciting perspective during the last decades. For me as an Africa(n) historian it was a rather typical step to take – several of my mentors, colleagues and friends belonged to the forerunners in the field and were leading advocates of challenging methodological nationalism and Eurocentrism. Questions, such as analysing global flows, networks or connections and their local articulations, opened hitherto closed spaces. Africa became part of the global story of human kind and ‘the global’ emerged as a complex factor that had to be defined and analysed. Was it only one of the new buzzwords that had been created, fluid and amorphous without any clear substance, or was there something more in it? What, then, was this ‘something’? Continue reading “Holger Weiss”