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Two International and Global History Conferences for Graduate Students and Post-Doctoral Scholars

It’s not always easy for graduate students and post-doctoral scholars to find the right venues to present work in progress. Sometimes, graduate students can feel hesitant about making the transition from seminar paper to conference paper – and thence to dissertation or book chapter. Even post-doctoral scholars can face similar challenges, whether it’s to do with turning the doctoral thesis into a more robust book, or laying the groundwork for the second book. Hence, it’s worth noting two opportunities that have come up on our radar recently. Firstly, on February 27-28, 2015, the Berkeley International and Global History (BIG-H) Committee is organizing their Third BIG-H conference. The conference (more here) invites submissions that address the following questions:

  • How did commercial exchange and cross-cultural interaction change definitions of what is human, divine, natural, or machine?
  • How were the boundaries of scientific truth and objectivity established across cultures?
  • How did modes of representing ideas change to accommodate interactions among different linguistic groups?
  • In what vehicles did ideas travel across cultures and polities, and how was the traffic of ideas governed?
  • How did ideas about the purpose of states change as people came into contact across cultures and political boundaries?
  • How did the spread of empires, nation-states, or markets change basic understandings of community, class, power, value, environment, religion, accountability, identity?
  • When did ideas transcend cultural difference to give rise to transnational social movements?
  • How did the scale of human imagination change as people interacted across cultures?

If that’s not enough, the international history community at Harvard is organizing a graduate student conference on March 12-13, 2015 entitled “Transitions: States & Empires in the Longue Durée.” According to the conference’s organizers, for this, the 15th iteration of the conference, “ the History Department will partner with the Department of the Classics to investigate these moments of transition between imperial orders and their international successors and precursors in a longue durée framework. Cross-temporal analysis will deepen and problematize established approaches that have tended to focus on the Age of Revolutions and the ‘first wave’ of newly independent states prefigured by the American Revolution, or on the global decolonization movement of the twentieth century. Alternative origins stories may be found, instead, in the tumultuous political re-organizations of the Hellenistic Age, the fall and break-up of the Roman, Byzantine, or Mughal empires, and the variety of successor states and other political units that replaced them.  Empires too can be crafted from states, like the emergence of the Soviet Bloc after the Second World War. Historical comparisons between the transitions from empire to state, and state to empire, could also reaffirm the distinctiveness of the modern international order and the novel ways in which people have come to conceive its appropriate political units.” Both are something to consider for the coming academic year. The Harvard conference is for graduate students only; the Berkeley conference for graduate students and post-docs. For those of you contemplating a visit to California, the deadline for the BIG-H conference is October 3; for those more inclined to the East Coast, the Harvard conference organizers request that submissions be handed in by August 24. More information can be found on BIG-H’s and the Harvard graduate student conference’s websites.

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Mark Mazower on the End of Eurocentism

Critical Inquiry has just published a piece by Columbia University’s Mark Mazower, titled “The End of Eurocentrism,” that looks promising.

The abstract for the piece follows:

From one viewpoint, the years from 1945 to 1948 can be seen as a story about European reconstruction; from another, they emerge as the opening chapter of decolonization. Putting these two stories together raises the question of how Europe’s relations with the world changed in these years and, in particular, how contemporaries thought about Europe’s changing place in the world. This in turn was bound up with the ways in which they read the war and how the experience itself shaped their sense of Europe’s relationship with the world. This helps explain both Bidault’s surprise and Murray’s anxious discovery that there are other continents.

The Second World War marked the end of a long period of European ascendency, whose critical starting point was not the sixteenth century, let alone the Renaissance, but somewhere at the end of the eighteenth or the early nineteenth century. The age of Eurocentrism spanned the period from 1800 to 1945 in several senses. First, it marked the emergence of Europe as a center of world power through its formal colonialism and the technology gap created by the Industrial Revolution. Concurrently, there was the rise of settler societies, of which the “Anglo-world,” as James Belich tells it, was the most successful—although there was also the German-Russian settlement expansion south and eastwards, as well as its smaller Ottoman version. Subsequently, there was a kind of diplomatic intellectual counterpart to this European ascendancy: a new discipline of international law, one that enshrined the notion of a standard of civilization, that Gerrit Gong wrote about and that rested on a differentiated categorization of sovereignties in different parts of the world. This was accompanied by a changing conception of Europe. Paradoxically, as Europe expanded in power, Europe as a concept shrank. In 1840, for instance, the European powers could plausibly propose to Mehmet Ali that if he stopped threatening to invade Istanbul they would allow him to become part of the system of Europe. Forty years later, that was not an offer anybody was making. The geographical conception of Europe had become more focused even as Europe became more powerful.

Source: mark mazower on the end of eurocentism

Dipesh Chakrabarty (2014 Toynbee Prize Winner)

Dipesh Chakrabarty Named 2014 Toynbee Prize Recipient

The Toynbee Prize Foundation has selected Dipesh Chakrabarty, Lawrence A. Kimpton Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago, as the recipient of the 2014 Toynbee Prize. The Prize, given every other year to a distinguished practitioner of global history, will be formally awarded at a session of the American Historical Association’s Annual Meeting in January 2015, where Chakrabarty will deliver a lecture on global history.

Chakrabarty, who has taught at Chicago since 1995, is a scholar of South Asian history, postcolonial studies, and global history. Perhaps best known for his 2000 volume Provincializing Europe, Chakrabarty has made major contributions to the historical fields at the core of the Toynbee Prize Foundation’s concerns. Epitomizing the mixture of breadth and depth that distinguishes major historians, he is currently at work both on a book project on the implications of the science of climate change for historical and political thinking as well as two other future projects on democracy and political thought in South Asia and the cultural history of Muslim-Bengali nationalism. Chakrabarty received his BSc honors degree from Presidency College, University of Calcutta, a postgraduate Diploma in management from the Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta, and a PhD (history) from the Australian National University.

Chakrabarty was chosen by unanimous consensus by the Selection Committee of the Toynbee Prize, composed of Jeremy Adelman, the Walter Samuel Carpenter III Professor in Spanish Civilization and Culture at Princeton University, Jennifer Pitts, Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago, and Peter Stearns, Provost and Professor of History at George Mason University. Timothy Nunan, the Executive Director of the Toynbee Foundation and an Academy Scholar at Harvard University, served as an ex oficio member of the Committee.

The members of the Election Committee acknowledged the importance and influence of Chakrabarty’s work. Peter Stearns noted that “Chakrabarty’s research on postcolonial cultures, and in the adjustments in historical perspective the postcolonial world requires, continues to exercise major influence in the field of history and the ways historians approach the global framework.” Adelman concurred, noting that “Dipesh Chakrabarty has changed the way historians think about their categories and compelled us to consider perspectives and experiences beyond the conventional cores from which these categories emerged. His essays and books on subaltern studies, class, nationalism, and the meanings of modernity have had a profound effect on global history. “

Charkrabarty joins a distinguished roll of previous Toynbee Prize recipients: the diplomat and historian George Kennan, the social scientist Albert Hirschman, and, more recently, fellow historians Natalie Zemon Davis, William McNeill, and Michael Adas.

Named after Arnold J.Toynbee, the Toynbee Prize Foundation was chartered in 1987 “to contribute to the development of the social sciences, as defined from a broad historical view of human society and of human and social problems.” The foundation awards the prestigious Toynbee Prize and sponsors global history regular sessions at the annual meeting of the American Historical Association, international conferences, the online Global History Forum, as well as the journal New Global Studies

More details on the precise date and time of Chakrabarty’s lecture at the 2015 American Historical Association Meeting will be forthcoming on this website.

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Is Global History Suitable for Undergraduates?

Cross-Posted on the Imperial and Global Forum 

Last week, I came across two provocative blog posts, at The Junto and the Imperial and Global History Network (IGHN), on teaching global history that got me thinking reflectively about my own recent experiences of approaching American and British imperial history from a global historical perspective. The big takeaways from both pieces seem to be: 1) teaching global history is a challenge not just for students but for teachers; and 2) that the net positive from teaching history from a global vantage point at the graduate level far outweighs said challenges. However, The Junto’s Jonathan Wilson concludes by quite explicitly questioning whether global historical approaches are in fact suitable for the first-year undergraduate classroom.

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Editors’ Choice: The Dollar is Still King

ITHACA – Scarcely a week passes without news about the ascendance of China’s currency, the renminbi. But China has a long way to go before its currency can rival – let alone displace – the US dollar as the dominant global reserve currency.

To be sure, China already plays a significant role in international trade and finance, with major financial centers like London and Frankfurt eagerly lining up for renminbi business. Recent speculation that China’s economy may soon be as large as America’s has boosted this interest further, causing many to believe – whether ruefully or gleefully – that the renminbi will soon dominate.

Moreover, the Chinese authorities have launched a raft of reforms aimed at opening the economy and making it more market-oriented, and have announced plans to liberalize interest and exchange rates and continue to ease restrictions on cross-border capital flows. All of this will strengthen the renminbi’s claim to reserve-currency status.

But China is missing one crucial ingredient: the world’s trust. To achieve currency dominance, China needs more than economic and military might; it requires a broader and more credible set of public and political institutions. And it is here that the US shines – at least relatively speaking.

Read Full Post at Project Syndicate

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CFP: The UN and the Post-War Global Order: Dumbarton Oaks in Perspective after 70 years, SOAS, 17-18 May

H-Net Discussion Networks – CFP: The UN and the Post-War Global Order: Dumbarton Oaks in Perspective after 70 years, SOAS, 17-18 May.

Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy, SOAS, University of London 17-18 May 2014

Two Day Colloquium: Keynote Presentation by Professor Tom Zeiler
(University of Colorado) Author of “Unconditional Defeat – Japan, American and the End of World War II” (2004) and Annihilation: A Global Military History of World War II (Oxford, 2011).

The history of ‘Dumbarton Oaks’ is overshadowed in the formation of the post-war order in many ways; most notably by the San Francisco conference of April 1945 which gave birth to the United Nations Organisation. Yet in a number of important ways it was the Dumbarton Oaks conference, or the “Washington Conversations on International Peace and Security Organization” to give it its full and formal title, that shaped the “postwar international organisation” agreed to in the 1943 Moscow Declaration. On the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the Conversations in the Georgetown suburbs of Washington DC, this colloquium will explore the conference, its antecedents, machinations and legacies.

The deadline for paper (and panel) proposals is 30th March 2014.

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Sleuthing the Origins of “Global History”

History does not repeat itself. The historians repeat one another.

—Max Beerbohm, 1896.

Historians are often charged — sometimes correctly — with precipitously proclaiming a “new” field of study: a field that, upon further investigation, is shown to be remarkably similar to earlier turns in the historiographical timeline. The post-colonial and subaltern “turns” of the 1980s are cases in point, as they, however unwittingly, tended to ignore the prodigious and overlapping work within Area Studies that had appeared in preceding decades. I duly began to wonder if the term “global history” might prove to be yet another illustrative example.

Indeed, in recent months, historiographical debates have arisen at the New Global History Forum, the Imperial & Global Forum, and the New Republic, among others, over the promises and perils of the growing field of global history. Despite our disagreements, there was common consensus that “global history” was a relatively new historiographical phenomenon that arose in the 1990s — and one that rose in popularity in the early 2000s.[1]

But is “global history” really so new?

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The Contexts of Global History

Historians care about context. When setting out to explore any historical question, professional historians want some familiarity with the customs, institutions, social structure, economic system, and ideas prominent in the relevant place and time. Indeed, much of the training for a career in historical research aims to provide a broad understanding of the region and era expected to be the context of future research. But does global history have a context?

It does, because global history, however uncommon it may be, is methodologically unexceptional. Even the most ambitious global histories operate within limitations, letting principal topic and central method set standards of relevance that allow limits, including chronological and geographical ones. Like all historical work, global histories establish their own rules of relevance. The more imaginative and original the work, the more likely it is to delineate its context from a cluster of questions that constitute historical problems. These, however, are then addressed with arguments based on kinds of evidence and methods of analysis familiar in historical research. Distinguished by its conceptual scale and sometimes by the historical problems it addresses, global history proceeds in normal fashion to establish the context it must engage.

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Workshop: Exploring Traditions: Sources for a Global History of Science, Cambridge, 30 November 2013

Exploring Traditions: Sources for a Global History of Science

University of Cambridge 30 November 2013

http://www.crassh.cam.ac.uk/events/25203

CRASSH, Alison Richard Building, 7 West Road, Cambridge CB3 9DT – SG1&2

This workshop is the second in a series that continues an important set of debates and reflexions on the interaction between histories of the sciences and models of global history. These debates ask fundamental questions about what science has meant on the global stage and how sciences have come to take form through global confrontations, connections and politics. The first workshop marked the visit to Cambridge of two scholars from South Africa and India: Prof. Keith Breckenridge (Witwatersrand) and Prof. Irfan S. Habib (Delhi). The keynote speakers at the second workshop will be Dr. Lauren Minsky (NYU, Abu Dhabi) and Dr. David Lambert (Warwick). An aim of these workshops is to link UK-based scholars with those working elsewhere in the world on questions of the sciences’ past. The network is also connected with the Centres of South Asian Studies and African Studies and the Faculty of History and the Department of History and Philosophy of Science in the University of Cambridge. Papers will be presented by post-graduate students and by post-doctoral scholars. Lambert will discuss his new book from Chicago University Press. We hope that students and scholars engaging with histories of science from different vantage points and at different stages will attend.

Read full post here. (Originally posted 7 November 2013)