Global History

Photo: Marcia Schenck

The Professorship for Global History at the University of Potsdam was established in 2020. It is dedicated to the study of African History as an integral part of Global History.

Global History as a discipline is understood primarily as a history of interdependence. The world we live in is rapidly growing together, English is becoming "Globish" and never before have so many people been able to travel so cheaply and time-effectively. At the same time, however, ethno-nationalism is rising once again, with more and more people trying to distance themselves from this ever more complexifying world. Global History as a discipline reaches beyond Eurocentric, nation-state approaches to history and focusses on processes and ideas of globalization. Through both macro- and micro-level analyses, it reveals, in a nuanced manner, how connections, but also separations, emerge; how continents grow together, but also how processes of alienation set in. Global history enables us to reflect on our role as citizens of the world historically and to position ourselves more consciously in our present.

Africa's rich history bears witness to the great achievements of African societies, as well as to millennia-old links and exchanges with the rest of the world. The continent is in a state of constant change, the causes and consequences of which need to be critically and historically reflected.

Historians of Africa contribute to the development of nuanced historical knowledge about the continent and to uncovering new archival sources and methods. To this end, oral sources and innovative approaches to interpretation are an important part of their methodological repertoire, from which Global Historians can also benefit.

Global History as well as African History can together face their challenges and benefit mutually from the opening of new archives and tackling of methodological problems. The research areas covered by the Professorship for Global History interconnect both disciplines with a focus on the history of migration and refugees, the history of labour, and of education, oral history, and the history of international organizations on the African continent.

Using innovative teaching formats, the Professorship brings together students across countries and continents, with and without refugee experiences in order to both learn and produce Global History through their own research projects.


Global History Mailing list

We’d like to invite you to join the Global History Mailing list.

We use the mailing list to share updates from the Global History Team here in Potsdam, invite you to our events (including new courses, lectures, and seminars), report on the work of our students (such as the ‘Queer Histories of Berlin Seminar‘s’ interactive map of queer histories or the ‚Global History Dialogues Project‘ Blog with Oral History research from all corners of the globe), and keep you posted about the latest developments in the world of Global History (including book releases, public events, and other exciting developments). 

You can subscribe (and unsubscribe) here.

We look forward to welcoming you into Potsdam’s Global History community!

The UP Global History Team



New Release – The Right to Research

The professorship is thrilled to announce the publication of the edited volume The Right to Research: Historical Narratives by Refugee and Global South Researchers as part of McGill-Queen’s Refugee and Forced Migration Studies Series.  Edited by Marcia Schenck and Kate Reed, it features nine contributions by refugee and host-community researchers from Across Africa, Europe and the Middle East.

Joanna Tague professor at Denison University and author of Displaced Mozambicans in Postcolonial Tanzania: Refugee Power, Mobility, Education, and Rural Development has this to say about the book:

“This ambitious and exciting volume makes a critical intervention in the processes of historical silencing and upsets conventional understandings of historical scholarship. The book reminds us that refugees have not been afforded the right to write history; this is a powerful, poignant, rightfully challenged assertion, and this assertion is timely - if not now, when?”


New Release - Monograph

Professor Schenck’s new open access monograph has just been published in Palgrave Macmillan’s Transnational History Series . Titled Remembering African Labor Migration to the Second World: Socialist Mobilities between Angola, Mozambique, and East Germany it draws on more than 260 life history interviews and uncovers complex and contradictory experiences and transnational encounters. What emerges is a series of dualities that exist side by side in the memories of the former labor migrants from Angola and Mozambique: the state and the individual, work and consumption, integration and exclusion, loss and gain, and the past in the past and the past in the present and future. By uncovering these dualities, the book explores the lives of African migrants moving between the Third and Second worlds. Check out the book’s website and download it for free! Stay tuned for the Portuguese translation coming out with Imprensa de Ciências Sociais in 2023.


Professor Marcia Schenck and the team of the Professorship of Global History spent the days between August 24th and 26th in the hills of Blankenburg for a writing retreat. Between individual working sessions and collective feedback meetings, the team's members could also enjoy hiking in the surrounding forest or work in the gardens of the Michaelstein Abbey for inspiration.

Prestigious fellowship award to Potsdam Historian Prof. Marcia Schenck from the Historische Kolleg in Munich


Faculty Prize of the Faculty of Arts

Professor Marcia C. Schenck received the faculty award for excellent teaching from the Faculty of Arts and Humanities 2020/21 based on student evaluations.


Professor Schenck is thrilled to announce the open access publication of the edited volume Navigating Socialist Encounters. Moorings and (Dis)Entanglements between Africa and East Germany during the Cold War!

Edited by Eric Burton, Anne Dietrich, Immanuel Harisch, and Marcia C. Schenck this book firmly anchors African history in global history by illuminating the connections between African and East German actors and institutions during the Cold War. With a particular focus on agency and African influences on the GDR (and vice versa), the volume sheds light on personal and institutional agency, reciprocal cultural transfers, migration, development, and solidarity.

Interested in the history of refuge seeking in Africa? Check out the recent blog series on Histories of Refuge on Africa is a Country. This series is edited by Madina Thiam and includes contributions by Christoph Kalter, Lazlo Passemiers, Rose Jaji, Keren Weitzberg, Alfred Tembo, Jochen Lingelbach, Aderito Machava, Njung George, Anita Vukovic. Professor Schenck’s contribution on Africa’s forgotten refugee convention is already published. This initiative is a result of the Exploratory Workshop “Rethinking Refuge: Processes of Refuge Seeking”, which Prof. Schenck organized at the Forum for Transregional Studies in Berlin in June 2019.

Professor Schenck has initiated the creation of an H-Africa “Refugees in African History” , a cross-network project which links H-Africa with H-Migration, dedicated to the historical perspective on refuge seeking in Africa as well as to and from the African continent. Together with her team of editors, Keren Weitzberg (H-Africa), Jochen Lingelbach (H-Migration) and Johanna Wetzel, Prof. Schenck maintains the network, which serves as a space to bring together information concerning research, teaching and discussions on refugees in African history. Are you looking to share a conference call or a call for papers? Would you like to ask colleagues for fieldwork tips? Are you preparing a new course and would like to get inspired by different syllabi? We invite you to take a look at our resources and help us expand them further by sending your input to africanrefugeesmail.h-netorg