Cross-Cultural Comparison in Times of Increasing Transregional Connectedness: Perspectives From Historical Sciences and Area Studies on Processes of Respatialization

  • Matthias Middell Leipzig University
Keywords: cross-cultural comparison, spatial analysis, study of entanglements, cultural transfers, history of historiography, area studies, transregional studies


In this article, I follow the history of debates about cross-cultural comparison within the historical disciplines and the social sciences and argue that, depending on the historical context, such comparisons are related to the study of entanglements in one way or the other. In the 1980s and 1990s, however, comparative history was the subject of sharp criticism while comparison remained a prominent and widely undisputed method in the social sciences. This can be explained by the different ways in which historians and social scientists react to the debate about globalization. In the meantime, within the disciplines of history, the harsh opposition between Vergleich [comparison] and Verflechtungsanalyse [the study of entanglements] has made room for a series of innovative approaches to combine them in a reflexive way.


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Author Biography

Matthias Middell, Leipzig University

Matthias MIDDELL, a professor of cultural history at Leipzig University, is spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center (SFB 1199) where he coordinates interdisciplinary work on processes of respatialization under the global condition and integrates research units dealing with individual world regions and their transregional ties into a larger research program devoted to the analysis of projects on globalization. Since 2015, he has been a board member of the Comité International des Sciences Historiques and since 2020, he leads the Global Dynamics Research Center at his university.

The Refiguration of Spaces and Cross-Cultural Comparison I