23. February 2023

New BCDSS Discussion Paper BCDSS Conversation 1: On Comparison and the Use of Theory

As part of the BCDSS Publishing series, the "Discussion Papers" generate a dialogue about the theoretical side of “strong asymmetrical dependency.”

In this new publication, members of the BCDSS discussed different concepts in an informal and open format. Participants were asked to reflect on the meaningfulness, the methods and the feasibility of comparison and the use of theory in their work (and especially in interdisciplinary projects).

Cover Discussion Paper 2 .jpg
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For the study of slavery and dependency in different historical eras and in different regions it is crucial to think about how to compare empirical findings across time and space. Long-term comparative history and connected or entangled history have been conceived of as two opposing and competing methodological approaches to study transcultural and global historical processes. Recent debates, however, have focused more and more on the question of how comparisons and connections may be combined in studies with a transcultural or global perspective. We draw on an old claim of micro-historians who seek to correlate the specific with the universal. These historians have sown the seeds of a comparative approach that attempts to constantly pivot between “close ups” on the micro-level and “extreme long shots” (Carlo Ginzburg) on the macro-level, oscillating between “snapshots” and a longue durée perspective.

Download BCDSS discussion paper 2

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