Postgraduate Spotlight: Jordan Girardin

jgirardinJordan Girardin grew up in the French region of Franche-Comté, only eight miles away from the Swiss border. He undertook his first degree at Sciences Po in Lyon, where he focused on both Communication and Political Studies. This included a year-long programme at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia where he was able to specialise in 18th and 19th century history. In 2012 Jordan decided to leave France’s gastronomic capital to move to St Andrews and to join the MLitt in Modern History, which he completed twelve months later. He has remained loyal to the School of History, by starting his PhD at St Andrews in September 2013 under the supervision of Dr Bernhard Struck.

Geneva: network hub and Alpine gateway? © Bibliothèque de Genève / VIATICALPES

Geneva: network hub and Alpine gateway? © Bibliothèque de Genève / VIATICALPES

Jordan’s main research interest is the study of networks, particularly in border regions, which explains his general enthusiasm for transnational history. Logically, his PhD thesis examines the development of travel networks and intellectual flows in the Alpine region (1750-1830). His MLitt dissertation consisted of a spatial analysis of transnational interactions in the County of Montbéliard, before and after its annexation by Revolutionary France (1770-1820). Jordan is also a keen historian of the Napoleonic era: his work (in French) on Napoleon’s decisive journey between Grenoble and Lyon during the Hundred Days is available in the Napoleon Foundation’s digital library.

Outside of his doctoral research, Jordan is involved in the Centre for Transnational History as a Communications Intern, hoping to develop the Centre’s visibility in St Andrews as well as abroad as part of the GRAINES Network. This year, Jordan is organising a workshop entitled “Mapping Flows & Visualising Data in the Era of Digital Humanities“. He has also helped to co-convene the Early Modern and Modern History Postgraduate Forum, including running the forum website, and teaches his mother tongue in the University’s evening language programme. In his spare time, besides repeatedly playing The Killers on his ukulele, Jordan likes to keep his Lyonnais and Philadelphian habits alive, always looking for a new restaurant or pub to try among the streets of Edinburgh. Jordan is passionate about travelling and particularly enthusiastic about railways, which is a topic that it’s best not to mention when he is around. You can reach Jordan online on his personal website or on Twitter.

Transnational History – Calls for Papers

SWWprojectThe GRAINES network, of which the St Andrews Centre for Transnational History is an active member, has recently released its call for papers for this year’s summer school, taking place in Vienna. This year’s theme is “The European City in Transformation: from the Early Modern Period to the Present”.

The Flying University of Transnational Humanities has also released a call for papers for this year’s meeting at the University of Pittsburgh, which can be downloaded here. The theme is “Globalization East”. Dr Bernhard Struck and Dr Konrad Lawson, both of St Andrews, have recently joined the FUTH steering committee.

Plans are currently underway to bring both the GRAINES summer school and the FUTH annual meeting to St Andrews in the summer of 2015.

Spotlight on Konrad Lawson


Dr Konrad Lawson

Konrad Lawson joined the School of History in autumn 2013 as a transnational historian with a primary focus on modern East Asia and the aftermaths of modern war. Raised on the shores of the North Sea in Stavanger, Norway and Aberdeen, Scotland, he spent some seven years in all studying languages and doing historical research in East Asia. In order of the cumulative lengths of stay over the years he has called Tokyo, Seoul, Beijing, Yokohama, Taipei, and Jinan home for extended periods ranging from a few summers of intensive language study to two years as a Ministry of Education sponsored research student at Waseda University in Japan, where he developed a strong interest in the history of interactions between China and Japan. Konrad completed his PhD at Harvard University in 2012 and was then a Max Weber Postdoctoral Fellow at the European University Institute in Florence before coming to St Andrews.

Konrad is currently working on his first book project, which is a study of the relationship between war crimes and treason in the process of confronting the violence of the Japanese empire in East and Southeast Asia. Research for this project gave him wonderful opportunities to work with everything from the Communist “Traitor Elimination Bureau” materials in Chinese and Taiwanese archives to North Korean prison and trial records captured by US forces in the Korean war; from the supreme court rulings of treason trials in early postwar Philippines to British intelligence documents on the wartime conduct of “renegades” who fought on behalf of the Japanese empire.


A “traitor” and “running dog” of Japanese imperialism.

Beyond the less than happy world of torture, trials, and wartime massacres of his main project, Konrad has also long pursued an interest in educational technology and what has come to be called the digital humanities. Teaching himself programming, he began with efforts to develop software to help learn and maintain proficiency in the languages he had studied. He later developed broader interests in exploring the ways technology can complement the work of a scholar in research, in teaching, and in sharing work with the broader community of history lovers outside the university environment. He founded one of the early collaborative weblogs on East Asian history at Frog in a Well, digitized the back issues and helped restart the Sino-Japanese Studies journal as a small but important open access publication, and is a contributor to the ProfHacker column at The Chronicle of Higher Education. Konrad is hoping to help build digital humanities at the School of History and has launched a series of workshops for staff and students introducing some of the skills that can be helpful to a historian in the twenty-first century.

Konrad currently teaches courses on the Japanese Empire, China’s Revolutions 1850-1989, co-teaches the MLitt course Global History, Globalisation and its Histories, and contributes to the first-level course Themes in Late Modern History.

When not carrying out research or championing the cause of digital humanities, Konrad enjoys long meandering walks, popcorn-powered evening films from around the world, and, in the spirit of “learning as play,” enjoys picking away at some new languages and digital skills.

Centre for Transnational History featured in GRAINES Summer School


The GRAINES network was launched in 2010. It brings together scholars from six different European institutions – Basel, Prague, Cologne, Vienna, SciencesPo Paris and the Centre for Transnational History in St Andrews – who work broadly on themes in European history from transnational perspectives.

GRAINES was launched as a loose network that organizes workshops and summer schools, which provide a platform for exchanges for interested postgraduate students and thus enhances the international postgraduate community.

We are now hosting our first summer school under the theme “From the Margins. Revisiting European History, c.1400 to present”. The summer school will be held at the, nicely chosen, Mediterranean SciencesPo campus in Menton, near Nice. For three days it will bring together some 22 PhD researchers from GRAINES and beyond from more then ten different countries as well as ten members of staff.

St Andrews will be present with five PhD students who will be presenting aspects of their fascinating research ranging from perceptions of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Thirty Years’ War, networks and institutions related to the European Space Agency to perceptions of Scotland and Bavaria as inner European margins and Geneva between Enlightenment urban centre and isolation during the Napoleonic period.

In the long term we are hoping to create a travelling summer school that will move between GRAINES institutions. For 2014 we are looking at Vienna before, hopefully, bringing the event to St Andrews in 2015. GRAINES and its activities are open to all interested colleagues and PhD students. Please feel free to get in contact with either Bernhard Struck or Tomasz Kamusella.

Additional Links:
The GRAINES Network Website
“From the Margins” Conference Website
The University of St Andrews Centre for Transnational History Website

The Conference Programme is available below: