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Outline

The master’s degree Atlantic Studies in History, Culture and Society is based on a concept new to the German and the international university landscape, which consciously goes beyond the current disciplinary borders. Against the background of historical and current globalisation processes it introduces the integration between the three continents around the Atlantic in the foreground of study and research, and transcends the traditional focus on national states. In contrast to other study programs concentrating on the interaction between Europe and North America, it comprehensively deals with the complex relationships between Africa, the Americas and Europe, the localisation of global processes and the peculiarities of developments in different areas of the world.

The M.A. Atlantic Studies starts with the premise that the three Atlantic continents, Africa, America and Europe have represented parts of a common system for the circulation of goods, ideas and people since the end of the 15th century. The continents are thus inter-connected by a myriad of entanglements of economic, social, cultural and politic nature (the triangular trade with the massive shift of African people to the Americas, the colonisation and comprehensive migratory movements of Europeans, Africans and Latin-Americans among others). This indicates that developments in each of the three continents, since the “age of discovery” in the 15th century by the latest, no longer can be sufficiently understood as single entities, but only within the framework of reciprocal relationships and influences.

The current globalisation debate is still dominated by economic and political science approaches, which principally focus on contemporary social macro-processes and on the level of formal institutions. Also, significant parts of the post-colonial theories consider only the edge of the historicity of the integration process and tend to ignore the main differences in the various colonial projects and the structure of post-colonial areas. In contrast, this M.A. Atlantic Studies program links a decidedly comparative and historical viewpoint with a more detailed consideration of informal structures, processes on the middle and micro levels, actors as well as cultural patterns of interpretation.

This M.A. Atlantic Studies in History, Culture and Society course combines approaches of global history and historical anthropology, literary and cultural studies, development sociology and cultural anthropology with newer viewpoints on gender and inequality research. The master´ s program stands out due to its inter-disciplinary character and the integrated observation of Africa, Latin America including the Caribbean, for which the participating staff members have a special expertise. However, unlike the Area Studies the Hanover program does not regard the three continents as separate entities, but takes them as one subject with a particular focus on their entanglements. Europe is hereby used neither as an explicit nor implicit model for historical processes in other parts of the world. Rather the study program aims at showing the interconnectedness of European and overseas developments since the early modern times. The aforementioned topics and considerations are subjects of ongoing research projects at the Centre for Atlantic and Global Studies at Hanover University whose results flow directly into teaching.