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”

“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.

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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.

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Holger Weiss

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”