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New Global Studies

Ed. by Chanda, Nayan / Iriye, Akira / Mazlish, Bruce / Sassen, Saskia

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Biography and (Global) Microhistory

Mark Gamsa
Published Online: 2017-10-11 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ngs-2017-0024


This article has two goals. It reflects on the recent developments and agenda of an approach to historical writing that is now becoming known by the name global microhistory, and it analyses the attention which this approach pays to individual lives. It also explores some of the challenges in writing the biography of a city alongside the life history of a person. The city is Harbin, a former Russian-managed railway hub in Manchuria, today a province capital in Northeast China. The person is Baron Roger Budberg (1867–1926), a physician of Baltic German origin who arrived in Harbin during the Russo-Japanese war and remained there until his death, leaving published works and unpublished correspondence in German and Russian. My forthcoming book about Budberg and Harbin challenges the distinction between writing “biography”, on the one hand, and “history”, on the other, while navigating between the “micro” and “macro” layers of historical enquiry.

Keywords: biography; microhistory; global history; Harbin; Baron Roger Budberg; Carlo Ginzburg

About the article

Published Online: 2017-10-11

Published in Print: 2017-12-20

Citation Information: New Global Studies, Volume 11, Issue 3, Pages 231–241, ISSN (Online) 1940-0004, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ngs-2017-0024.

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© 2017 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston.Get Permission

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