The Graduate Program in History - PPGHIS has the goal of developing professors and researchers in History with emphasis on transnational and global perspectives, while carrying researches on the history of Latin America, Caribbean, Africa and Asia through these approaches. The Program will enable students to do research and work in several fields, including those of regional interest, such as tourism and patrimony.
The Master’s Degree in History at UNILA will take advantage of the short but valuable experience of the university in its first years as far as receiving foreign professors and students, also bringing new and varied perspectives to it. UNILA is located in the Three Border Region and so it can offer a graduate program in the field of History under a point of view that goes beyond the theme of borders, where the criterion of limitation of Nation States overshadows other rich cultural, political and symbolic connections in the region. This broader perspective will prepare students for a variety of challenges that fits the current global reality, which has been already understood by some authors as “post-national”. The origin of this perspective is precisely based on intents of overcoming the logics of nation states that has been so strongly marked in historiography and in politics since the 19th century. Since 1990, historiographers from different fields and themes have started thinking about their work from a transnational or global point of view, specially focused on the flow, movement or reach of people, ideas, wealth, institutions and languages, beyond national borders (or other politically defined borders, such as blocks – Mercosur or the European Union).
The transnational approach not only aims at criticizing nationalistic historiographical paradigms, but also criticizing a perspective of globalization that is equal to a “westernalization” of the world, founded on different versions of modernization theories. Thus, it aims at thinking about the historical interaction between different cultures and its impact onto the formation of the varied objects studied by historians. The transnational studies have been making historians rethink and reset historical units of the past due to a reflection that is founded on the experience of our current global reality. By that means, new historical-spatial configurations have been appearing, such as the Atlantic World, for instance, that is meant to help us think about the relations between America, Africa and Europe since the Age of Discovery. In consonance with this approach, we propose to think about the history of Latin America, Caribbean, Africa and Asia from a theoretical-methodological perspective that is oriented to the history of the Global South.
In this sense, this perspective is appropriate, and it can even be developed, from the experience of the undergraduate course of History – Latin America of UNILA, which has a curriculum that was built based on a review and a criticism of the eurocentric historiographical narrative that has always oriented the development of the discipline of History in Brazil. Fundamentally, this approach permits us to enrich the studies of the national context where UNILA is inserted, because the cultural richness and diversity of the Western Region of Paraná, specially of the Three Border Region, go beyond the transbordering exchanges and interchanges. This richness and diversity include contributions from populations from the East of Asia, the Middle East, the Caribbean, and other countries of Latin America that are not located in the Three Border Region and also, more recently, from countries of Central America. Despite that, it would also be a perspective that would be able to produce graduate studies which would include the indigenous populations of the region, such as the Guarani, who have historically had a view and an experience of the territory that is distinct from the limitations defined by the Nation States of Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay.
Because they are a new perspective and not a new object proposed to history (PORTES, 2004, p. 175), transnational studies have been used with relevant results in researches about migrations and diasporas, history of work, biographies, institutions (specially Nation states), historiography, history of art, history of concepts (and/or ideas), phenomena such as imperialism and colonialism, construction of identities (such as gender, race, class) and symbolic exchanges. As a problematics, it stimulates the use of a set of varied sources, from historiography to writings, images, oral sources, official documents or literature.
This approach permits us to have a critical reflection about the national (and/or nationalist) and regional historical narratives, which converges with perspectives such as social history and the post-colonial and decolonial theories, specially from the contribution of post-structuralism, as well as the Subaltern Studies. It proposes a review based onto the notion of agency, or protagonism, because it stops seeing Latin America, Caribbean, Africa and Asia as mere reaction spaces towards external cultural impositions (European or North American), or as “particular” modernity spaces, confronted with a “universal” modernity that is external to them. Then, the transnational perspective rejects models of diffusion, and it prefers ideas such as “cultural circulation”. Thus, it permits a review of the way of thinking and studying the history of modernities in the Global South, in its long duration, since the first contacts between Europeans and local populations. This is also why there is the need to implement this proposal in a Master’s Degree program that is concentrated in the field of History, as we will discuss below.
The transnational perspective can be worked by means of comparative studies, but it is not only related to comparative history, because it emphasizes integration and interchange in the constitution of the studied historical phenomena. It questions the specific comparative model which presupposes isolated national units and which aims at affirming the national exceptionality through comparison with other nations (also considered in its uniqueness). It is open for dialogue with very rich recent trends, such as cross history, connected history, global history and world history.
This way, the Master’s Degree Program in History - UNILA will allow the production of a set of thesis and papers which will aim at critically re-evaluating historiographical narratives about Latin America, Caribbean, Africa and Asia. As far as the history of the Three Border Region is concerned, the Program proposes researches that include the several new agents and objects of the historical process of cultural formation of the region. This conceptual framework, aligned to the experience of the professors of the Master’s Degree Program in History - UNILA and to the research practice therein developed will enable its students to become higher education researchers and professors who are able to think History from the issues of their time and also from the new challenges the discipline has been facing in the last decades. These challenges include the reviewing of the nationalist, eurocentric and modernizing paradigms, and the problematization of a series of questions that are comprehended as transnational, such as human rights and identity issues. In this sense, it is from the detailed and systematic study of History from a transnational point of view that the proposed Master’s Degree Program can contribute to the interdisciplinary dialogue carried by the university, as well as become an original contribution to Graduate Studies of History in the country. Besides, the Program will create professionals who can research and work in several areas, including those of regional interest, such as tourism and patrimony.
The transnational approach has been born from preoccupations regarding historiography about Latin America (as shown by WEINSTEIN, 2013, and discussed by PRADO, 2011-2012), and it constitutes a perspective that has great influence on global historical studies , stimulating reviews of curriculum and approach in several historiographical research centers. A Master’s Degree in History that is built onto this perspective will become an original space for relevant contributions to the historical research in Brazil, fitting the nature of the principles that its institution adopts and the region where it is located.