In May 2013 Rana Mitter and I published the Past & Present Supplement, Transnationalism and Contemporary Global History. We were aware of a growing interest in the subject and wished to bring together some of the most exciting new research being undertaken around the world. Through a series of essays ranging from wartime China to decolonising Africa we wanted to explore the global spread of ideas, institutions and peoples, especially those that travelled along unexpected paths: hence articles on Indian influences on Kenya or on black Americans in China. Our period was confined to the middle decades of the twentieth century, though we were aware of much other work being conducted on modern history where scholars were exploring the notion of transnationalism.
Certainly, if the download statistics are anything to go by, there is clearly a growing demand for these types of histories. To mark the two years since the supplement was published, we have decided to make the entire volume freely available for a further three months. In addition, we have also made available in this virtual issue a number of other pieces on modern history that have been published in Past & Present over the last few years that might, in other circumstances, have found their way into such a supplement. As with the supplement itself, these will be available free of charge for a period of three months. This virtual issue marks the latest in a series of initiatives in which Past & Present will make parts of its extensive ‘back catalogue’ freely available through the exploration of various historical themes and subjects.
Matthew Hilton, May 2015