Research Team "Micro-Spatial Perspective"

How can we combine microhistory and global history? The debate around this issue took off during the last decade and has hitherto resulted into very diverse propositions. Micro-spatial history is one specific approach within this debate. Within global history, it highlights those strands that address the way spatiality is constructed, and delve into the specific sites,
connections and actors that are key to the social process under study („spatial history“). Within microhistory, it connects to the tradition of Italian microhistory, and views microhistory as the analytical approach that investigates the making of social processes, rather than predefining the categories, spatial units and periodizations of analysis (as in macro-analytical approaches).

Key features of the micro-spatial perspective include:

  • Avoiding any conflation between the type of analysis („micro“/“macro“) and its spatial scope („local“/“global“). Consequently, the micro-spatial perspective rejects the association of micro with local and macro with global.
  • Focussing on the connectedness and singularity of places as a way to overcome the local/global divide. The attention here goes to how the specificity of a site emerges from its multiple connections with other localities, and how connections bring together sites that are diverse.
  • Addressing how the social practices of the historical actors construct larger social processes and historical configurations. In this way, the micro-spatial perspective moves beyond the agency/structure divide.
  • Inviting to unthink „scale“ as an analytical concept, and analyzing the scaling procedures by which social actors legitimise their power and actions.

The research team also contributes to the ongoing re-thinking of social history. The micro-spatial perspective seeks to unearth the practices and processes that lie behind abstract concepts like „war“, „capitalism“, „the state“, or „the empire“. It interrogates how the collaboration, negotiation and conflict among (individual and collective) historical actors shape larger social configurations. It studies the sedimentation, synchronisation and shifts of historical processes, in order to understand social change. And it deals with how intersectional regimes of inequality are connected to the production, reproduction and legitimation of power.

The research team is coordinated by prof. dr. Christian G. De Vito and will include also one postdoc researcher and one PhD student.

Are you interested in joining the activities of the research team? Do you wish to embed your research project in the research team (through third-party funding)? Please contact:


Selected bibliography

Micro-spatial history

De Vito, Christian G. and Anne Gerritsen, eds, Micro-Spatial Histories of Global Labour. Basingstoke, Palgrave, 2018.

De Vito, Christian G., „History without Scale: The Micro-Spatial Perspective“, Past & Present, volume 242, Issue Supplement 14, 2019, pp. 348-372. (Portuguese edition: "História sem escala: a perspectiva micro-espacial", in Maíra Ines Vendame, Alexandre Karsburg, coord., Territórios da história. O micro, o local e o global. Alameda, Sao Paulo, 2023, pp. 241-270).

De Vito, Christian G., „Verso una microstoria translocale (‚micro-spatial history‘)“, Quaderni storici, nuova serie, 50, 150, 3, 2015, pp. 815-833 (Portuguese edition: "Por uma micro-história translocal (micro-spatial history)", in Maíra Vendrame e Alexandre Karsburg (org.), Micro-História, um método em transformacao. Sao Paulo, Letra e Voz, 2019, pp. 201-220).


Global microhistory

Andrade, Tonio, “A Chinese Farmer, Two African Boys, and a Warlord: Toward a Global Microhistory,” Journal of World History 21, no. 4, 2010, pp. 573–91.

Berg, Maxine, ed., „Global Microhistory of the Local and the Global“, Journal of Early Modern History, 27, 1-2, 2023.

Bertrand, Romain, and Guillaume Calafat, „La microhistoire globale: affaire(s) á suivre“, Annales. Histoire, Sciences Sociales, 73, 1, 2018.

de Vivo, Filippo, „Prospect or Refuge? Microhistory, History on the Large Scale. A Response“, Cultural and Social History, vii, 3, 2010.

Epple, Angelika, „Globale Mikrogeschichte: Auf dem Weg zu einer Geschichte der Relationen“, in Ewald Hiebl and Ernst Langthaler (eds.), Im Kleinen das Große suchen: Mikrogeschichte in Theorie und Praxis. Innsbruck and Wien, Studien Verlag, 2012, pp. 37–47.

Gerritsen, Anne, „Scales of a Local: The Place of Locality in a Globalizing World“, in Douglas Northrop, ed., A Companion to World History, Boston and Oxford, Wiley Blackwell, 2012.

Ghobrial, John-Paul A., “The Secret Life of Elias of Babylon and the Uses of Global Microhistory,” Past and Present 222, no. 1, 2014, pp. 51–93.

Ghobrial, John-Paul, ed., „Global History and Microhistory“, Past & Present, volume 242, Issue Supplement 14, 2019.

Ginzburg, Carlo, „Latitude, Slaves, and Bible: An Experiment in Microhistory“, Critical Inquiry, xxxi, 2005 pp. 665–83.

Ginzburg, Carlo, „Microhistory and World History“, in The Cambridge World History, vi, part 2, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2017, pp. 446-73.

Levi, Giovanni, „Microhistoria e Historia Global“, Historia Crítica, 1, 69, 2018, pp. 21-35.

Putnam, Lara, „To Study the Fragments/ Whole: Microhistory and the Atlantic World“, Journal of Social History, xxxix, 3, 2006.

Schiel, Juliane, „Zwichen Panoramablick und Nahaufnahme: Wie viel Mikroanalyse brauch die Globalgeschichte?“, in Lohse Tillmann and Benjamin Scheeler, eds, Europa in der Welt des Mittelalters: Ein Kolloquium für und mit Michael Borgolte. Berlin, De Gruyter, 2014.

Trivellato, Francesca, “Is There a Future for Italian Microhistory in the Age of Global History?” California Italian Studies 2, no. 1, 2011.

Trivellato, Francesca, Microstoria e storia globale. Rome, Officina Libraria, 2023.


Italian microhistory

Ginzburg, Carlo, „Microhistory: Two or Three Things That I Know about It“, Critical Inquiry, x, 1, 1993, pp. 10–35.

Ginzburg, Carlo, The Cheese and the Worms: The Cosmos of a Sixteenth-Century Miller. Baltimore, John Hopkins University Press, 1992.

Gribaudi, Maurizio, Espaces, Temporalités, Stratifications. Exercisces su les réseaux sociaux, Paris, EHESS, 1998.

Gribaudi, Maurizio, „Des micro-méchanismes aux configurations globales: Causalité et temporalité historiques dans les formes d’évolution et de l’administration française au XIX siècle“, in Jürgen Schlumbohm, ed., Mikrogeschichte Makrogeschichte: Complementär oder inkommensurabel?, Göttingen, 1998, pp. 83–128.

Levi, Giovanni, „Il piccolo, il grande e il piccolo: Intervista a Giovanni Levi“, Meridiana, 10, 1990, pp. 211-234.

Levi, Giovanni, „On Microhistory“, in Peter Burke (ed.), New Perspectives on Historical Writing. University Park, Pa., Penn State University Press, 1992, pp. 93– 113.

Levi, Giovanni, „Un problema di scala“, in Sergio Bologna et al., eds, Dieci interventi sulla storia orale, Torino, 1981, pp. 75–82.

Levi, Giovanni, Inheriting Power: The Story of an Exorcist. Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1988.

Magnússon, Sigurdur Gylfi and István M. Szijártó, What is Microhistory? Theory and Practice, Abington, Routledge, 2013.

Torre, Angelo, ed., Per vie di terra: Movimenti di uomini e di cose nelle società di antico regime, Roma, Franco Angeli, 2007.

Torre, Angelo, Places. Production of Locality in the Early Modern and Modern Age, Abingdon, Routledge, 2020.


Spatial history

Buschmann, Rainer F., Iberian Visions of the Pacific Ocean, 1507–1899. New York, Palgrave, 2014.

Craib, Raymond B., Cartographic Mexico: A History of State Fixations and Fugitive Landscapes. Durham and London, Duke University Press, 2004.

Driver, Felix and Raphael Samuel, „Spatial History: Re-thinking the Idea of Place“, History Workshop Journal, xxxix, 1995, pp. v–vii.

Donnan, Hastings, and Thomas M. Wilson, Borders: Frontiers of Identity, Nation and State. Oxford and New York, Routledge, 1999.

Gruzinski, Serge, Les quatre parties du monde: Histoire d’une mondialisation. Paris, Èditions de La Martinière, 2004.

Howe, Stephen, ed., The New Imperial Histories Reader. London, 2009.

Mawson, Stephanie J., Incomplete Conquests. The Limits of Spanish Empire in the Seventeenth-Century Philippines. Ithaca NY, Cornell University Press, 2023.

Subrahmanyam, Sanjay, From the Tagus to the Ganges. Explorations in Connected History. Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2005.


Rethinking social history

De Vito, Christian G., Juliane Schiel and Matthias van Rossum, „From Bondage to Precariosness? New Perspectives on Labor and Social History“, Journal of Social History, 54, 2, 2020, pp. 644-662.