Hesitant Hegemony for China and the US? An Interview with Lixin Wang

Chinese First Lady Peng Liyuan and President Xi Jinping with American President Donald J. Trump and First Lady Melania Trump, April 2017. Photo by Jim Watson/Getty Images.

Speculation is mounting that the United States, with Donald Trump cast in the role of president, will step back from the world stage, and China will increasingly lead. But what would China face if it decided to assume international leadership and advance its own ideas and agendas for global order? Drawing lessons from the American experience, Prof. Lixin Wang’s new book A Hesitant Hegemony (Beijing: China Social Sciences Press, 2015)indicates that China should not hastily seek world leadership and that the burden of leading the world is too heavy for China to bear. In the book, Lixin Wang incorporated both a cultural perspective and an international history approach to examine American identity and its search for international order in the first half of the twentieth century.

Lixin Wang, a professor of history at Peking University, Beijing. Photo by Lixin Wang.

Lixin Wang (王立新), a professor of history at Peking University, Beijing, is one of the leading historians advancing international and transnational history in China. He recently received the Yangtze River Scholar Award, the highest academic award issued to an individual in higher education by the Ministry of Education of China. In our interview with him, Lixin Wang talks about his own path to history: from growing up in a small mountain village in Northeast China to his undergraduate education and graduate studies at Nankai University in Tianjin, where he studied American history and completed his Ph.D. dissertation in 1996. His first book sought to re-evaluate the American missionary role in China through the lens of global modernity. In the interview, he recalls the intellectual interactions between him and American historians, discusses his latest book, and also shares his thoughts on the state of the fields of international and global history in China.

—Kaiwei Teng


To get us started, could you tell us about where you were born and raised? How did you come to study history?


I was born in a small mountain village of Liaoning Province in Northeast China. Before I went to the high school of Xingcheng Town, I had never left the village. After graduating from high school in 1983, I became an undergraduate student in the history department of Nankai University, Tianjin, the third largest city in China, where I earned a BA, MA and PhD in history.


What was it like studying American history at Nankai University just after China reopened its doors to the West. Could you tell us a bit about your PhD dissertation?


After the normalization of Sino-American relation in early 1979, some of China’s top universities began to establish close exchange relations with American universities and each year there were several American historians visiting, giving lectures, and even teaching one-year courses at my department. I listened to the lectures of Thomas Paterson (University of Connecticut) and Hyman Berman (University of Minnesota), and took courses taught by William Shea (University of Arkansas) and Carol Patillo (Boston College).

My Ph.D. dissertation, entitled American Missionaries and Modernization of China in the Late Qing (Ching) Dynasty (published in 1997 by Tianjin People’s Press) explores how American missionary enterprises and activities exported modernity to China and thus promoted the transformation of China in educational, cultural, social and even political fields. In this book I attempted to challenge the cultural-imperialist paradigm dominating the Chinese narrative of missionary history up to then and re-evaluate the missionary role in China through the lens of global modernity. It is widely regarded as a landmark in the Chinese historiography of Christian missionary movement in China.

American Missionaries and Modernization of China in the Late Qing Dynasty (Tianjin: Tianjin People’s Press, 1997, revised in 2008)


When did you become interested in international history?


In the academic year of 2007-2008, I did research at Yale University as a Fulbright Visiting Research Scholar, where I became interested in international history. After returning to China, I began to introduce the approach and perspective of international and transnational history into China.


Which scholars have strongly influenced your approach to studying history?


Prof. Yang Shengmao of Nankai University, the founding father of American history programs in China and the supervisor for my MA and PhD dissertations. Prof. Akira Iriye of Harvard University, whose cultural and international approaches to history attract me and with whom I have maintained a friendship for a long time. Prof. John L. Gaddis of Yale University, who was my hosting professor when I stayed at Yale and whose adoption of theories of international relations into Cold War international history studies continues to inspire me.

Shengmao Yang (杨生茂,1917-2010), the founding father of American history programs in China and Lixin Wang’s advisor at Nankai University, who attended the University of California, Berkeley (1941-1944) and Stanford University(1944-1946), supervised by diplomatic historian Thomas A. Bailey. He played a key role in the creation and development of American history and world history in China.


I want to turn to your most recent project, A Hesitant Hegemony: America’s Search for National Identity and International Order after Its Emergence as a Great Power (Beijing: China Social Sciences Press, 2015). What has been the reaction to the book in China? How did you incorporate an international history approach into the book?

A Hesitant Hegemony: America’s Search for National Identity and International Order after Its Emergence as a Great Power (Beijing: China Social Sciences Press, 2015)


The book has been a bestseller among scholarly history books published in China in the past two years. The publisher and the Research Institute of the World Modernization Process at Peking University jointly sponsored a symposium on the book in December 2015 and some prominent scholars specializing in American studies, international history and international relations participated in the conference and gave their comments. A few book reviews appeared in journals and on internet forums. Several academic institutions, including the Pangoal Institution, one of the most influential think tanks in China invited me to give talks on the book. The Pangoal Institution recommended my book as one of the key readings for its members, even some leaders who play some role in China’s foreign policy-making process.

In fact, the cultural perspective is more striking than the international approach in my book. I paid more attention to the intellectual foundations of US foreign policy and the cultural aspect of American international relations. Of course, I also incorporate an international history approach into my book, such as tracing the rise of the US as the world leader in a global context and using one chapter to explore American non-government organizations’ search for the international order.


What motivated you to write A Hesitant Hegemony?


China is rising to the status of the world power and Chinese elites are considering China’s new role in the international arena since the dawn of the new century. I wondered if the American experience could be illuminating for China. What I most want to tell Chinese readers (including Chinese leaders) is that, according to American lessons, China should not hastily seek world leadership and that the burden of leading the world is too heavy for China to bear.


As the US steps back from the world stage, some say China will fill the vacuum left by it. What role do you see China playing internationally and what differences would China bring to the international order?


China will play a positive role in global economy and contribute to the economic growth of underdeveloped countries. It is very likely that China will become the leader of East Asia and the Pacific region, or at least China is seeking that goal. But I do not think China will have the power to fill the vacuum in Europe and the Middle East if the US leaves or steps back. The US world order plan, which was put forward and adopted in the aftermath of Second World War, originated from its founding ideology, political culture, and domestic democratic governance. It seems that China’s leaders have not figure out a comprehensive blueprint for world order and neither Confucianism nor current Chinese domestic political culture can tell Chinese leaders something in their attempts to devise a Chinese version of international order. What Chinese leaders are pursuing is the recovery of the position of China as the Middle Kingdom.


You are the first to start a seminar course on international history in China. How did you design this course? What kinds of readings do you set?


It’s a reading seminar. The topics of the seminar include: mass culture, consumerism and global capitalism; international human rights; the role of international non-government organizations in international relations; empire and imperialism; disease, environment and global governance; international terrorism; sports and international politics; civilization and international relations, etc. The reading assignments are selected from the latest publications written by American and Chinese historians, such as Walter LaFeber, Akira Iriye, Emily Rosenberg, Mark Bradley, Jeremi Suri and Erez Manela, among others.


What are your thoughts on the state of the fields of international and global history in China? What is preoccupying Chinese international and global historians at the moment? How does this differ from what is preoccupying international and global historians in other countries?


China is at an early stage in terms of international and global history studies. Outstanding works based on empirical and primary study are few. However, more and more historians are becoming interested in these two approaches and are attempting to re-explore both Chinese and American histories through international, transnational and global perspectives. The internationalization of modern China and the US’s overseas cultural and informational activities are two popular research areas.


What books have you been reading recently with an international or global bent that have really stuck with you? Where do you see the field going in the future?


Two books have really impressed me recently: Sara Snyder’s Human Rights Activism and the End of the Cold War: A Transnational History of the Helsinki Network (2011) and David Armitage and Jo Guldi’s The History Manifesto (2014). I think that the history of international institutions, global governance and international society will be the new frontiers in international and global history. On the other hand, with the intensification of power competition among the US, China and Russia, geopolitical and strategy studies will be emphasized once again, and even brought back to some extent to the center of international history studies.


Could you share with us a little about your current research?


My current research explores how American self-understanding and self-image affected its international conduct and foreign policy in the twentieth century. I want to combine cultural and international approaches in my explanation of the international history of the US as a great world power.

CFP: Challenging the Liberal World Order: The History of the Global South, Decolonization and the United Nations, 1955-2000 (Leiden, Netherlands 8-9 May 2018)

For those interested in the Global South, here’s a recent call for papers for a conference to be announced by Alanna O’Malley (Leiden University, The Netherlands) titled “Challenging the Liberal World Order: The History of the Global South, Decolonization and the United Nations, 1955-2000.” The call for papers explains more:

Keynote Speaker: Vijay Prashad (Trinity College, Connecticut)

The United Nations is the central node in the system of global governance, organizing and managing the interaction and cooperation of the organs and specialized agencies of the institution with NGOs, corporate and civil society actors and increasingly, the global public. Despite the important role of the UN in this nexus, existing histories of the organization place an emphasis on the role of Western actors and often overlook the agency of countries from the Global South. This workshop will investigate how individuals, organizations, civil society actors and states from the Global South impacted upon the UN and the system of global governance in the latter half of the 20th century as they expanded the meaning of decolonization to address a range of North/South inequalities.

Significance of workshop:

From the moment of its inception, counties from the Global South began to organize in formal and informal groups around specific issues at the UN, an organization that was perceived as being full of promise for the construction of a more equitable and just world order. Through discussions and public debates in the General Assembly, and in the corridors and working groups of the UN, the campaign for decolonization became the primary focus of countries from Africa and Asia. As more countries became independent, the decolonization movement shifted from the assertion of sovereignty and the right to self-determination, to a host of other claims for a broad range of social, economic and political rights. Alongside Latin American countries and smaller neutral nations, the African and Asian groups and the Afro-Asian bloc cooperated at the UN on a range of issues from economic development to human rights, to the struggle against apartheid. The workshop seeks to analyze this cooperation to trace the way this dynamic activity changed the UN and impacted upon the various issues around which the Global South groups came together through issue based alliances and solidarity networks.

In recent years the historical role of international organizations has been the subject of increased attention from historians seeking to reassess their role in shaping the global order. Leading historians from Mark Mazower to Matthew Connolly have encouraged scholars to ‘take off the Cold War lens’ in analyzing international institutions and their impact on local, national and international politics. Others, such as Susan Pedersen have reminded us about the long-term significance of organizations in functioning as networked platforms and agents of international change. Drawing on this scholarship, the workshop will invite proposals which take innovative views of the UN as a space for international and transnational cooperation, a dynamic forum which reveals interactions between the Global South and the West as the latter tried to challenge the liberal world order leading to the resurgence of UN activism from 1990-2000.

This workshop will consider a variety of contributions using sources from empirical research while also taking account of interdisciplinary reflections on the historical role of international organizations from a transnational and global perspective. Topics may include:

  • The emergence of ‘Third-Worldism’;
  • How decolonization interacted with the Cold War at the UN;
  • The evolution of the Afro-Asian Bloc and cooperation between the African and Asian groups;
  • Economic Development, NIEO, UNCTAD, etc.;
  • The response of the major powers to Global South demands for reform;
  • The role of Global South countries in the campaign for human rights;
  • The dynamism of Latin American states at the UN;
  • The role of UN officials and the UN Secretariat;
  • The participation of non-state actors and NGOs;
  • The influence of officials from the Global South across these dimensions;
  • The formation and import of transnational groups such as the G77 and the Non-Aligned movement;
  • South-South and South-Soviet interactions;
  • The resuscitation of the UN in 1990.

The workshop will take place from 8-9 May with a Keynote Lecture from Vijay Prashad during the afternoon of 8 May followed by a selection of workshop panels on 9 May. Adopting a different format in order to allow for more panels, there will be no formal presentations of work but a commentator will give a brief reflection of the papers to kick-off each panel. In this way it is hope that all participants will read the papers and a deep discussion will follow.

Submission of abstracts 

Please send an abstract of max. 500 words and a short CV to the following email address: a.m.omalley@hum.leidenuniv.nl by 1 January 2018. Authors will be notified regarding the acceptance of their contribution by 31 January. Invited speakers will be expected to submit a draft paper 1 month prior to the event, which will be circulated among all other participants. Some funding will be available for travel and accommodation.

CFP: The Worlds of 1848 (Paris, December 2018)

This conference on the global dimensions of the revolutions of 1848 invites scholars to submit papers considering the plurality of revolutionary “worlds” that may have obtained in the years 1846-1851. The conference is suitable for scholars working on topics in global and imperial history; the history of the revolutions of 1848; the history of migration and mobility; slavery; republicanism, cosmopolitanism, and utopia; and gender. Proposals must be submitted by 15 December, 2017. 

More below:

It may seem as if there is nothing left to say about the 1848 Revolutions and the ‘Springtime of the Peoples’. Their chronologies and discontinuities, hopes, struggles, and ebbs and flows are all well known. The transnational dimension of the “most European of 19th-century revolutions” has been underlined many a time and its medium-term geopolitical effects studied. Yet, while the Age of Revolutions (1770-1840) has increasingly been considered on a global scale, and colonial and informal domination of Europe expanded during the first half of the century, the global dimension of 1848 remains relatively unknown. 

In a seminal article, Miles Taylor showed that while the United Kingdom, excluding Ireland, was itself relatively unaffected by the 1848 revolutionary wave, repercussions were deeply felt throughout its immense colonial empire, notably in terms of fiscality and forced migration. The importance given to the abolition of slavery in the 1848 Revolutions has moreover been reassessed in recent historiography, going beyond its local effects in the Caribbean. Repercussions of the 1848 Revolutions throughout the Americas have likewise been reevaluated, with an occasional focus on clearly circumscribed geographical areas such as Pernambuco in Brazil. Christopher Bayly and Jürgen Osterhammel have also opened up stimulating perspectives on a more global scale.

Repercussions and effects, appropriation and reuse remain, however, largely to be established. This International Symposium, organized by the Société d’histoire de la Révolution de 1848 founded in 1904, aims to take stock regarding the colonial, imperial and global dimensions of the revolutionary moment surrounding 1848, in the diversity of its expressions and connections. Unearthing and identifying the plurality of the “worlds of 1848” is therefore the objective of this event, which coincides with the 170th anniversary of the 1848 Revolutions. As part of widening the scope, the intended chronological timespan will cover the period from 1846 to 1851.

Several topics merit further consideration:

  • First, the study of connections between the various European and non-European territories (or between territories outside Europe), based on the international and intercontinental movements of people, ideas, lines of thought, associational practices, symbols and images.   
  • Thorough and detailed studies of a social, political and cultural nature, dealing with insurrectional and protest experiences in non-European territories, are also welcomed, in order to grasp the multiple fragmentation underway at the time.
  • It is likewise of interest to reveal global configurations conducive to explaining the common rationales for revolutionary movements outside Europe (economic crisis, growing empire of the state, aspirations for popular sovereignty, abolitionism, etc.).
  • Finally, consideration will be given to times of revolutionary ebbfailures and the wave of repression which, on occasion, mobilized other territories (such as Algeria for France). The issue of Europe’s possible blindness in the face of such an imperial and global dimension may also be examined.    

While the territories lending themselves most readily to study seem to be located within the Atlantic area (in particular around the Caribbean, Latin American republics and Brazil), the aim is to explore a broader framework, in order to analyze even the weakest of connections and, more particularly, offer wider possibilities of comparison by including Africa (north, west, south), the Ottoman Empire, the Mediterranean Region, South-East Asia, as well as Australia and New Zealand.

In the same way as that of the revolutionary movements concerned, the diversity of the topics envisaged is wide and includes:

  • fiscality and related resistance;
  • abolition of slavery and its effects, in particular development of the coolie trade and indentured servitude;
  • movements of exiles and migrants, as well as of international armed volunteers;
  • the cosmopolitical dimension of the struggles (surrounding the “Universal Republic”);
  • the specific issue of political projects (diversity in republicanism, utopian thought, concrete exposure to agrarian colonies, etc.);
  • experience of the suffrage movement, civic guards and associationism;
  • redesigns of the idea of freedom;
  • the issue of gender, feminism and masculinities;
  • the range of actions undertaken (barricades, rituals, images in action, conspiracies, etc.);
  • social fears and oppressive violence.

Papers may be presented in French or English. Proposals must be submitted by 15 December 2017; they should give details of the proposed contribution (roughly 5 to 6 000 characters) and include a biobibliography. Proposals will be examined by the Scientific Committee and a reply given around 15 January 2018. Travel expenses will not be covered by the organizers, except in certain specific cases.

CFP: Lessons and Legacies XV: The Holocaust: Global Perspectives and National Narratives (November 01-04, 2018)

For readers interested in global and national histories of the Holocaust, here’s a recent call for papers for a conference to be announced by Northwestern University and Washington University titled “Lessons and Legacies XV: The Holocaust: Global Perspectives and National Narratives.” The call for papers explains more:

The Fifteenth Biennial Lessons and Legacies Conference, sponsored by the Holocaust Educational Foundation of Northwestern University and Washington University in St. Louis, invites scholars to submit proposals for papers, panels, posters, workshops, and seminars.

Proposals should relate to recent issues and advances in Holocaust scholarship and conform broadly to the conference theme, “Global Perspectives and National Narratives.” We welcome submissions that utilize various methodologies and perspectives. Proposals that address broad explanatory frameworks, representation and memory, and from disciplines other than history are strongly encouraged.

Conference sessions include several formats as outlined below. Submissions should clearly indicate one of these formats.

Conference Panels will consist of three to four papers and a moderator. Paper proposals should include title and abstract (up to 300 words) and a 1-2 page CV. Proposals for full panels should additionally include a title and brief description of the full session (up to 300 words). Conference chairs will consider individual proposals and organize them as panels.

Posters (new to L&L 2018) should communicate research questions, findings, and importance succinctly using text and graphics on a single poster (2’x 4’). Poster proposals should include title and abstract (up to 300 words) and a 1-2 page CV. Poster sessions are an opportunity for advanced graduate students to present and receive feedback on their research, but scholars at all career levels are welcome to submit poster proposals.

Workshops consisting of one or two presenters should focus on particular questions, approaches or sources. Workshops are intended to be interactive and practical, highlighting (for example) a new pedagogical approach, research question, or method; curricular innovations; or creative ways to examine and interpret artifacts or texts both in research and the classroom. Conference organizers will prioritize proposals centered on participation and discussion.

Seminars (new to L&L 2018) bring together a diverse group of scholars at various career levels for three meetings over the course of the conference for sustained discussion of a question or problem. Participants will access a common syllabus of readings and position papers BEFORE the conference. Only those registered for the seminar will have access to the papers. Online access will be removed immediately after the conference. If you are interested in proposing a seminar, submit a 350-word abstract that describes a compelling case for the why this particular issue should be explored. Once a seminar is accepted, conference attendees may apply to the seminar as presenters (9-12 papers accepted). Participants will be determined by the seminar organizer in consultation with a conference co-chair. Seminar papers must be available to post by 1 September, 2018.

Proposals must be submitted using the Lessons and Legacies Proposal Submission Form: https://weinberg.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_0rCB6eWIQrtEH6R

To the extent possible, financial assistance for conference presenters will be provided. Priority is given to graduate students, faculty at teaching-oriented colleges not offering research support, and foreign scholars with unusually high travel costs. Instructions for funding applications will be posted once the conference program is finalized.

CFP: The History of Meteorological Knowledge Transfer in Colonial Contexts (ESHS, London, 14-17 September, 2018)

Scholars working at the margins of global history, colonial history and the history of science may be interested in participating in a proposed symposium on the history of meteorological knowledge in colonial contexts at next year’s European Society for the History of Science Conference, due to be held in London from 14-17 September 2018. The call for proposals from the organizers is given below:

(Dis)Continuity between the East and the West: The history of meteorological knowledge transfer in colonial contexts

Papers are sought for a proposed symposium on the history of meteorological knowledge in colonial contexts at next year’s European Society for the History of Science Conference, due to be held in London from 14-17 September 2018.

While histories of meteorology have increasingly begun to consider global and non-Western perspectives, the distinction and/or continuities between Western and Eastern approaches to meteorology and the networks that have historically transferred knowledge across diverse geographies and cultures have to date been understudied. This panel aims to address this gap by exploring the dynamism of material, institutional and intellectual engagements between the ‘local’ and ‘metropolitan’ constructions (and uses) of atmospheric knowledges and various forms of meteorological cultures that have defined the colonial scientific space through the processes of domination, appropriation, resistances and hybridity.

Relevant topics include (but are not limited to):

– Colonial interpretation/appropriation of regional/local meteorological knowledge.

– Port cities and their role in knowledge exchange between different traditions.

– Observatories including architectural and organizational aspects

– Networks of exchange and the circulation of knowledge

– Tensions: between colonial and indigenous knowledge; between the metropole and rural etc.

– Historiographic revisions, going beyond the ‘diffusionist’ model

If you are interested in participating in the panel, please send a working title and short (100-200 word) outline of your proposed paper to Dr Fiona Williamson (ariwfc@nus.edu.sg)  by no later than Monday 4 December, 2017. Please note that given the short turnaround date for this submission, at this stage we only require a working title and rough outline, and those selected will be asked to submit a complete abstract at a later date.

For further information about the conference please see http://eshs2018.uk/

The International Commission for the History of Meteorology will be able to offer some financial support for attendance to successful candidates, although the exact nature and scope of this support is still to be determined. 

If you have any questions regarding this proposed panel, please contact Fiona Williamson (ariwfc@nus.edu.sg)

Conference: Chronologics: Periodisation in a Global Context (Berlin, 7-9 December 2017)

For readers interested in historical periodization in a global context, here’s a recent conference announcement titled “Chronologics: Periodisation in a Global Context.” The conference will gather scholars from around the world in Berlin. The announcement explains more:

Epochal divisions and terminologies such as “antiquity”, “baroque,” the “classical age,” the “renaissance,” or “postmodernity,” the “long 19th!” or “short 20th” centuries are more than mere tools used pragmatically to arrange school curricula or museum collections. In most disciplines based on historical methods the use of these terminologies carries particular imaginations and meanings for the discursive construction of nations and communities. Many contemporary categories and periodisations have their roots in European teleologies, religious or historical traditions and thus are closely linked to particular power relations. As part of the colonial encounter they have been translated into new “temporal authenticities” in Africa, Asia and the Americas, as well as in Europe. German historians in particular, in C.H. Williams’ ironic description, “have an industry they call ‘Periodisierung’ and they take it very seriously. (…) Periodisation, this splitting up of time into neatly balanced divisions is, after all, a very arbitrary proceeding and should not be looked upon as permanent.”

In producing and reproducing periodisations, historians structure possible narratives of temporality, they somehow “take up ownership of the past,” (Janet L. Nelson) imposing particular “regimes of historicity” (François Hartog). Accordingly, periodisations are never inert or innocent, indeed, they have been interpreted as a “theft of History” (Jack Goody). The aim of this conference is to uncover some of the dynamics behind particular cultural and historical uses of periodisation schemes, as concepts for ordering the past, and thus to reconsider these terminologies “devised to think the world” (Sebastian Conrad). Periodisations are culturally determined. They beg for systematic comparison in order to identify the contextual specificity and contingency of particular understandings of particular historical epochs. An interdisciplinary and transregional perspective allows for a reconsideration of the (non-)transferability of historical periodisations and the possibility to work out categories of historical analysis that go beyond nation-bound interpretative patterns.

The conference aims to show where and how periodisation reveals clear cultural, social, and national leanings and predispositions. We will discuss the making of these chronologics, the variable systems and morphologies it takes, e.g. religious, spatial and other models (e.g. linear, spiral, circular). We will focus on different agents and modes involved in the making of periodisation schemes (institutions ranging from the university to the school or the museum but also genres such as the documentary, the historical novel or local communities).
We will discuss how European attempts at structuring the History, and along with them, particular chronotypes have been translated worldwide into universal and/or national, and communitarian models. At the same time, we will also focus on alternative, complementary and or silenced models of periodisation and epoch-making. By bringing together scholars with an expertise in different regions of the world, we hope to better understand the importance of temporality in the making of global history.


Thursday, Dec 7th

Welcoming Addresses

Andreas Eckert (Humboldt Universität zu Berlin/Forum Transregionale Studien)
Hans van Ess (Max Weber Stiftung/ LMU München)


Chair: Hans van Ess (Max Weber Stiftung/ LMU München)

Pablo Blitstein (Universität Heidelberg) 
An East Asian History of the “Multiple Renaissances” Thesis

Jon Chappell (London School of Economics)
Finding ‘Imperialism’ in China: Power and the Politics of Periodisation in Chinese History

Martin Dusinberre (Universität Zürich)
Maritime: The “Pacific Age” and the Japanese Chronotype of Expansion

Joachim Kurtz (Universität Heidelberg)
When Were the Chinese “Middle Ages”? East Asian Travails of a Colligatory Concept

David Mervart (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid)
The Four Monarchies and the Three Dynasties: Translating European Past in Japan

Birgit Tremml-Werner (Universität Zürich)
Translation and Temporalities in Transcultural Diplomacy

(Papers 15 Minutes, 30 Minutes Discussion)

20:00 Welcome Reception

Friday, Dec. 8th

Thomas Maissen (Deutsches Historisches Institut Paris)
Barbara Mittler (Universität Heidelberg/Forum Transregionale Studien/ HCTS) 
Pierre Monnet (Institut franco-allemand de sciences historiques et sociales, IFRA/SHS)


Chair: Eva Cancik-Kirschbaum (Freie Universität Berlin/Einstein Center Chronoi)

Heather Ferguson (Claremont McKenna College)/ David Moshfegh (IE University Madrid)
Producing Islamic History: Schemes of Medieval and Modern and the Racialization of the Past

Justus Nipperdey (Universität des Saarlandes)
Modernity’s Early Modernity – Periodizing European History in Europe and the United States

Milinda Banerjee (LMU München/ Presidency University, Kolkata)
Mastery, Servitude, and the Dialectics of Conquering Time: Periodization and Counter-Periodization in South Asian and Global Intellectual Histories

(Papers 2o minutes, 30 minutes discussion)

11.00 Coffee Break


Chair: Andreas Eckert (Humboldt Universität zu Berlin/Forum Transregionale Studien)

Eloi Ficquet (CéSor / EHESS, Paris) 
L’entrée de l’Ethiopie en modernité comprise à travers les découpages de l’histoire biblique

Bodhisattva Kar (University of Cape Town)
Since Time Immemorial: Connected Histories of an Anti-Period

Andrew Fearnley (University of Manchester) 
Periodization and Place: The ‘Harlem Renaissance’ and the American Racial Imagination

(Papers 2o minutes 30 minutes discussion)

13.00 Lunch


Chair: Pierre Monnet (Institut franco-allemand de sciences historiques et sociales, IFRA/SHS)

Gerrit Jasper Schenk (Technische Universität Darmstadt)
Ende der Unschuld? Periodisierungsversuche des sozioökologischen Weltsystems für die „Vor-moderne“ in der Anthropozän-Debatte

Achim Landwehr (Heinrich Heine Universität, Düsseldorf)
Where have all the ages gone? Trouble with the European 17th century

Alessandro Stanziani (EHESS, Paris)
Notions et pratiques de la « révolution » : une vue eurasiatique (mi-XVIIe-fin XVIIIe siècles)

(Papers 2o minutes 30 minutes discussion)

15.30 Coffee Break


Chair: Thomas Maissen (Deutsches Historisches Institut Paris)

Tatiana Artemyeva (Russian Adademy of Sciences, Moscow)
The Epoch of Enlightenment in Russian and Soviet Periodisation Schemes

Youngmin Kim (Seoul National University)
Politics of the Early Modern: the Dynamics behind Periodization Schemes of East Asian History

Frederico Navarrete (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México) 
Fighting over the Pre-Columbian period: the past, the present and the future in the Americas

(Papers 2o minutes 30 minutes discussion)

17.30 Coffee Break



Sanjay Subrahmanyam (University of California, Los Angeles)

Introduction: Sebastian Conrad (Graduate School Global Intellectual History, FU Berlin/ Forum Transregionale Studien)

20.00 Dinner for the participants

Saturday, Dec. 9th


Chair: Margrit Pernau (Graduate School for Global Intellectual History/Max Planck Institute for Human Development)

Özlem Caykent (İstanbul 29 Mayıs Üniversitesi)
Nationhood and its Imposing Power over Time and Chronology

Anubhuti Maurya, (University of Delhi )
The Mythical Medieval: Periodization, Historical Memory and the Imagination of the Indian Nation

Susynne McElrone (CAORC, Washington/ACOR, Amman) 
The Paradox of Palestinian National History: Colonized Periodization

(Papers 2o minutes 30 minutes discussion)

10.30 Coffee Break


Chair: Kris Manjapra (Tufts University, Medford/ Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin)

Ihediwa Nkemjika Chimee (University of Nigeria, Nsukka)
African Historiography and the challenges of European periodization: A Historical Comment

Bernard Cooperman (University of Maryland)
Inventing Jews by Periodizing Jewish Time

Özen N. Dolcerocca (Koҫ Üniversitesi, Istanbul)
Transnational Modernism and the Problem of Eurochronology

(Papers 2o minutes 30 minutes discussion)

12.30 Lunch


Chair: Manu Goswami (New York University/Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin)

William deJong Lambert (CUNY / Columbia University)
Neo-Darwinism, Synthesis, Neo-Synthesis: The Problem of Periodizing Evolution

Tilman Frasch (Manchester Metropolitan University)
Time, Teleology and History: “Metteyyanism” in Theravada Buddhism

Meltem Toksoz (Boğaziçi Üniversitesi, İstanbul)
Periodization in Late Ottoman Universal Histories, Re-Modeling Time and Empire

(Papers 2o minutes 30 minutes discussion)


Chair: Barbara Mittler (Universität Heidelberg/ Forum Transregionale Studien/ HCTS)

Comment: Sanjay Subrahmanyam (UCLA)

Ulrike Kirchberger (Universität Kassel)
Chronologies of Ecologial Change in the Indian Ocean World, 1850-1920

Jörn Rüsen (Universität Witten-Herdecke)
Making Periodization Possible. The Concept of the Course of Time (Zeitverlaufsvorstellung) in Historical Thinking

Michael Geyer (University of Chicago)
After the “Provincialization of Europe”: The Time of World History in Marshall G. S. Hodgson’s Work on Ismalicate Societies and World History

(15 minutes Input papers, 30 minutes Panel discussion)

16.30 Concluding Remarks by the Conveners and General Discussion

17.15 End of the Conference

CFP: Global Histories: A Student Journal

Graduate student readers should consider this great call for submissions for the journal Global Histories. The call explains more:

In recent years, global history has become one of the most ambitious and promising strands of historical research. The approach targets relations, flows, and actors that challenge the assumption of the nation state as a natural and inevitable category of historical analysis. It calls attention to the importance of transnational, trans-regional, or trans-local connections and their influence on the past.

But how can we actually “do global history” in practical terms? To which issues and themes does global historical research add insight? How can global history complement but also challenge other disciplines? And conversely, what critiques and new ideas can other disciplines bring to global history?

To contribute possible answers to these questions, we encourage the submission of research articles that exemplify concrete research informed by global historical perspectives or reflect relevant methodological considerations. The wide range of questions pursued in the research articles previously published in Global Histories may serve as a starting point for your consideration:


We also welcome the submission of history conference reviews. Please review a history conference which you have attended in the last months, focusing on how the conference was intellectually conceptualized and how it related to wider trends within the discipline of history.

Who We Are

Global Histories is a student-run open-access journal based in the MA Global History program at Humboldt-Universität and Freie Universität in Berlin. We are looking for submissions from fellow students across the world for our journal’s fifth issue which is to be published in April 2018.


Article submissions should be 5000-7000 words and conference reviews approximately 1000-1500 words. All submissions must be in English, follow the Chicago Manual of Style for Notes and Bibliography and must not be under review or have been previously published elsewhere. For more detailed information on our submission guidelines please consult: http://www.globalhistories.com/index.php/GHSJ/about/submissions

Authors should register on our website www.globalhistories.com to submit their work. Questions related to topics or submissions should be directed to submissions@globalhistories.com well in advance of the January 1st, 2018 final deadline.

CFP: Global History Student Conference (Berlin, Germany, June 9-10, 2018)

For graduate student readers of the Global History Blog, this recent call for applications is for you. The students of the Global History MA program at Humboldt University Berlin and Free University Berlin have announced “Global History Student Conference 2018” in Berlin. This graduate student-focused conference on global history provides the opportunity to enhance academic network and experience for early career researchers! The call explains more:

We have now opened our Call for Applications for next year’s GHSConference to be held on June 9th and 10th in Berlin!

We are excited about your proposals for presentations to be submitted on this website before February 1st, 2018.

The core of the conference’s program are the all-student panels, the keynote lecture will be given by Prof. Sebastian Conrad, head of Freie Universität’s Center for Global History and we will offer several workshops to familiarize you with alternative approaches to studying and presenting history.

We invite you to submit research projects of different time periods, crossing geographical but also disciplinary boundaries. The goal is to exchange experiences and to work together in an open and non-competitive way which is why we explicitly invite undergraduate students to apply: if you have ever written a paper or essay in this field, this is the perfect place to present it!

You find all further information in the actual Call for Applications, if any questions remain unanswered, please do not hesitate to email us to globalhistorystudentconference@gmail.com.

Please share this call with your friends and co-students, we are looking forward to reading your abstracts!

CFP: Anti-Catholicism in Europe & America, 1520-1900 (Newcastle, UK, 11-13 September 2018)

A three-day workshop on anti-Catholicism in Europe and America will be held at Newcastle University 11-13 September 2018. The aims of the workshop are to compare and contrast the anti-Catholic traditions of a range of countries and regions across Europe and America from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century; to see how definitions of ‘popery’ changed according to the political/religious context in which they were situated; and to assess how, why, and to what extent anti-Catholicism might be seen to have contributed to wider historical processes such as the Reformation, Enlightenment, empire, state building, and the formation of national identities.

The workshop will not be run via a series of formal papers, but will encourage discussion, exchange and interdisciplinary debate. We would like to encourage historians, art historians, theologians, and literature scholars, and those from other disciplines and at all stages of their careers to participate in this workshop. If you are interested in contributing, please submit a 300 word abstract of your research interests and how they relate to one or more of the following themes to adam.morton@newcastle.ac.uk by April 30th 2018:

  • Anti-Catholicism and National Identities
  • Anti-Catholicism and the Atlantic World
  • Anti-Catholicism in America
  • Anti-Catholicism and the Reformation
  • Anti-Catholicism and the Enlightenment
  • Anti-Catholic readings of the past
  • Conspiracy Theories
  • Stereotypes
  • Representations of ‘papists’
  • Anti-Catholicism and politics/political thought
  • Anti-Catholic violence, unrest, and riot
  • Change and continuity in concepts of anti-Catholicism
  • Catholic reactions to anti-Catholicism

It is expected that proceedings from the workshop will be published at a later date.

The workshop is being organised by the Arts and Humanities Research Council funded network, ‘Anti-Catholicism in British History: c. 1520-1900’. The aim of this network is to outline the history of anti-Catholicism in Britain by focussing on how it contributed to political, cultural, and religious movements during moments of crisis, by tracing the roles which stereotypes and conspiracy theories played in maintaining anti-Catholic ideology, and by assessing the ways in which anti-Catholicism changed across the centuries and how vital this change was to ensuring that it remained a significant part of ‘British’ and ‘Protestant’ identities. This workshop on Europe and America is intended to draw comparisons between nations: anti-Catholicism is often cited as being crucial to national identity, but was it, perhaps, a supra-national ideology? Given that so many countries and groups claimed it as a hallmark of their identity, can it be seen as a ‘national’ phenomenon in any meaningful sense?

If you would like to join the network or participate in its workshops and events, please send a brief outline of your research interests to adam.morton@newcastle.ac.uk