Global and transnational history - and the story of soybeans
Ines Prodöhl, appointed Associate Professor in history, focuses on economy, agriculture and industry in her research and teaching.
- The twenty-first century is characterized by processes of integration and disintegration, says Ines Prodöhl. - Our current world seems simultaneously connected and disconnected. Accelerations in transport and communication technologies affect us every day and many people ask questions about the origins of our globalized present. I am not able to answer all the questions, but I came to the University of Bergen to give students the tools they need to answer the questions on their own.
Prodöhl studied at the Universities of Leipzig and Zurich, and did her doctor’s degree at the University of Heidelberg. Her thesis was on two German publishing companies in the twentieth century.
– When I followed these companies’ past from Nazi-Germany to Switzerland and from East-Germany to the Soviet Union, I discovered for the first time the meaning of transnational history. In addition, I learned how economy and culture were intertwined and how national borders and ideologies shaped businesses.
After finishing her PhD thesis, she continued working on economic connections beyond national borders. She joined the German Historical Institute in Washington DC with a research project on the history of soybeans.
-More than ten years and some moves later, this work still keeps me busy. I am tracing the history of the soybean as a commodity for further processing, e.g. into soap, margarine and animal feed, and follow its way from Asia to Europe and America.
Currently she is working on a book on the global history of soybeans from the late nineteenth century to after World War II.
-Soybeans were and still are mainly invisible in daily life, but they are highly significant in modern industry and agriculture—also in Norway.