Monday, May 07, 2012

Comparative History

There are not too many people who do comparative history. Yet, I think when done well comparative history is a lot more interesting than the traditional focus on a single "nation state." I have been trying to do more comparative work. My last couple of publications have comparisons between Africa and Eurasia and I would like to continue in this vein. But, I do realize there is a strong bias against comparative work in favor of more narrow foci. Does anybody else see any merit in comparative history?

1 comment:

Daniel Goldberg said...

I've recently added a comparative history component to my American history project (the subject is pain without lesion among leading neurologists in mid-to-late 19th c.).

For a variety of reasons, it is instructive and important to compare the views of the American neurologists to their British counterparts (not least because there were close ties between the two).

I haven't done much comparative stuff, so it makes me a bit nervous -- how to circumscribe it effectively? How to present it at conferences in a limited time frame? How to draw a line (why stop with a G.B./U.S. comparison? If there are reasons that justify comparisons between either of the above and Germany, France, Austro-Hungarian Empire, etc., it can be hard to come up with truly compelling reasons other than limited time and energy for narrowing the scope of the comparisons).

Nevertheless, I forge on.