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Susanne Lachenicht

The interview discusses the history of the research field ‘Atlantic History’ with one of the leading scholars in Atlantic History, Harvard historian Bernard Bailyn. It looks into the founding of the Harvard Atlantic History Seminar, themes and topics and how the field has evolved since the 1990s.

in The TransAtlantic reconsidered
The examples of early modern France and Britain
Susanne Lachenicht

This chapter opens the collection with a theoretical and wide-ranging discussion of the meaning of imperial expansion across Europe in the early modern age. Historians Christopher Bayly and Jürgen Osterhammel have both described the early modern period as a time of accelerated globalisation, during which European and non-European expansion triggered a degree of interconnectedness not known before the 1500s. Susanne Lachenicht places this observation in the context of European perceptions of the role and function of empire in relation to national interests and emerging definitions of what the nation was meant to signify to the individuals and institutions involved in shaping and strengthening it, in part through overseas expansionism presented in the sources as a service to the people and their rulers. The overview of the multiplicity of agents, both voluntary and involuntary, involved in the processes at work in connecting spaces, both European and overseas, shows how these processes of growing interconnectedness developed often through national and exceptionalist stances seemingly at odds with the realities of global trade. Comparing the evolutions of French and British imperial policies with regards to local understandings of national sovereignty and power allows us to demonstrate that trading companies enjoyed unequal and changing support from the Crown and the nation, depending on a variety of factors over which they had limited control, such as the demands of national production and competition from other corporations.

in Agents of European overseas empires

The TransAtlantic reconsidered brings together established experts from Atlantic History and Transatlantic Studies – two fields that are closely connected in their historical and disciplinary development as well as with regard to the geographical area of their interest. Questions of methodology and boundaries of periodization tend to separate these research fields. However, in order to understand the Atlantic World and transatlantic relations today, Atlantic History and Transatlantic Studies should be considered together. The scholars represented in this volume have helped to shape, re-shape, and challenge the narrative(s) of the Atlantic World and can thus (re-)evaluate its conceptual basis in view of historiographical developments and contemporary challenges. This volume thus documents and reflects on the changes within Transatlantic Studies during the last decades. New perspectives on research reconceptualize how we think about the Atlantic World. At a time when many political observers perceive a crisis in transatlantic relations, critical evaluation of past narratives and frameworks will provide an academic foundation to move forward.

Abstract only
Susanne Lachenicht
Charlotte A. Lerg
, and
Michael Kimmage

The introduction assesses the development of the concept of the Atlantic World and its related research fields, Transatlantic Studies and Atlantic History. The chapter opts for a new understanding of Transatlantic Studies and Atlantic History as it has evolved after the end of the Cold War and emphasizes the need for self-reflexivity, transnational, and global perspectives in Transatlantic Studies and Atlantic History alike.

in The TransAtlantic reconsidered