Global biographies

Lived history as method

Authors:
Laura Almagor
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Haakon A. Ikonomou
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Gunvor Simonsen
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Global Biographies provides a comprehensive and concrete analytical framework for the use of biography as a method in global history. Over several recent decades, biography has re-emerged as a legitimate and nuanced approach to history. Nevertheless, global history, long slanted towards structural processes and the macro-analytical perspective, has made limited use of biographies beyond the purpose of adding narrative spice to larger-scale analyses. By contrast, Global Biographies shows that biography as a method of historical writing is uniquely positioned to explore human experiences and agency in global processes. Biography offers a privileged means by which to explore the relationship between individuals being in the world and socio-historical changes on a global scale. Global Biographies unpacks the historiographical and methodological relationship between biographies and global history and in doing so presents three uniquely tailored approaches to global biography. These approaches direct attention to questions central to global history concerning time and periodization, exceptionality and the normal, and space and scale. Through a diverse and carefully curated collection of chapters, each approach is conscientiously probed and reflected upon. From Icelandic communists and Jewish medical students, via Zambian Third Worldism and Albanian nationalism, to the black/white Atlantic and Australian internationalists, this volume tests the potential and pitfalls of the approaches it launches. Global Biographies offers a thorough historiographical intervention, a new set of biographical approaches to global history and a broad and critically reflective set of case studies spanning the globe.

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