All posts by Timothy Nunan

Global History Forum: Discussing “Starvation and the State: Famine, Slavery, and Power in Sudan, 1883-1956” with Steven Serels

For most audiences today, the word “Sudan” evokes images at once terrorizing and timeless. Older readers may recall the images of emaciated bodies that television crews relayed from western and eastern Sudan during the great famines of the mid-1980s. Anyone reading today, however, will remember the outrage – but also lack of meaningful reaction – that the Sudanese government’s terror in the western region of Darfur evoked during the early 2000s. (Those wars, which then-Secretary of State Colin Powell called genocide, still continue.) According to these images, Sudan remains at once black, Arab, Muslim, poor, hungry; but also – crucially – in the present. Appalled by the horrors of famine and genocide, it is easy to forget to probe the past – a colonial past – to inquire after the structural roots of hunger and famine not as an accident but as an accomplishment of modern state-making. Moral outrage and a human rights-inflected imagination may be important, but it’s solid empirical history that furnishes an understanding of the roots of crises like those that plague – or define – Sudanese stateness.

That’s why the Global History Forum was delighted to sit down recently with Steven Serels, a post-doctoral fellow at Harvard University’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies and Weatherhead Initiative on Global History. Steven, whose first book, Starvation and the State: Famine, Slavery, and Power in Sudan, 1883-1956, was just published by Palgrave MacMillan in December 2013, graciously met with GHF to discuss his work, his future agenda, and – at the center of it all – Sudan and the broader region and even world order that the country fits into.

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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.

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 New York 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.

Oxford Centre for Global History

The Oxford Centre for Global History was established by the History Faculty in June 2011 to reflect its strong commitment to promoting Global History. The Centre is based in the History Faculty Building in George Street, Oxford.

Global History
Global History in Oxford is defined broadly as the global movement of people, goods and ideas and the consequences that flow from them. Chronologically, it extends across all historical periods from Ancient to Late Modern. The Centre is particularly keen to encourage cooperation between historians of different periods, as well as places, in the study of themes of global significance, including:

  • The dialogue between imperial, transnational and comparative history
  • The different meanings of the concept ‘global’, including the balance in the dialogue between cultures in different historical periods
  • The global history of rights, and the history of global governance
  • Cross-cultural and transnational histories of varieties of representative government and of public spheres (including attitudes to public ethics and the global history of corruption)
  • The development of economic interdependence, including its relation to technological transfer and scientific interchange
  • The movement of peoples as against the movement of ideas and practices
  • The history of regions seen in a global context, and the study of intersecting local societies
  • The roles of lingua francas in history, including the practices of translation and their cultural significance

Incubating New Research
The Centre’s purpose is to promote Global History through the support of research projects and the provision of workshops, seminars and conferences. The ‘founding’ conference ‘New Directions in Global History’ took place on 27-29 September 2012 and ‘The Great War and Global History’ conference was on 9-10 January 2014.

However, a key part of the Centre’s role is to facilitate the research of all those in Oxford who are keen to develop a global history dimension in their work. In its History Faculty and in kindred departments, including Classics and Ancient History, Oriental Studies, Chinese Studies, Politics and International Relations and Economics, Oxford has one of the largest concentrations in the world of historians and others with interests in Global History. The Centre is designed to reflect and promote these wide-ranging interests, developing and carrying out team projects on clearly significant issues that cross time, space, and discipline.

The Centre’s activities are generously supported by the Oxford University Press John Fell Fund.

 

LSE IDEAS

LSE IDEAS was founded in 2008 and now runs a series of regional and topical programmes. The centre currently does research on the international affairs of East and Southeast Asia, the Balkans, the United States, the Middle East, Latin America, Africa and on the history of the Cold War. With the International History and International Relations departments, IDEAS has pioneered a unique two-year Masters degree in international affairs with the School of International Studies at Peking University, the first European-Asian elite degree of its kind. The centre also works together with other international partners, such as Columbia University, Princeton University, Sciences Po, and the National University of Singapore, in developing new programmes and research initiatives. IDEAS is a centre of PhD training within the LSE and hosts a number of visitors, advanced doctoral students, academics and foreign policy practitioners, from across the globe. The centre has also developed training programmes for foreign service officers from several countries.

LSE IDEAS proudly manages the Executive MSc Diplomacy and International Strategy. The aim of this executive programme is to enhance decision makers’ confidence in their strategic vision on how to address global challenges of the 21st century. The interplay between a wide array of academics, experts, practitioners and experienced participants guarantees vivid debate and candid analysis. Being based within LSE IDEAS, the programme allows participants to profit directly from a wide number of events and reports.

LSE IDEAS organises numerous public lectures and seminars and publishes two journals, two book series and a number of occasional publications. It contributes to the LSE’s Summer Schools in London and in Beijing and organises a number of out-of-term events outside London, in Cambridge, Bologna and elsewhere.

LSE IDEAS holds the Philippe Roman Chair in History and International Affairs, a one-year distinguished visiting professorship for leading scholars based outside the UK. Philippe Roman professors contribute to teaching within the Centre’s key areas of activity. The Philippe Roman Professors for 2007-2012 have been Paul Kennedy (Yale), Chen Jian (Cornell), Gilles Kepel (Sciences Po), Niall Ferguson (Harvard), Ramachandra Guha and Anne Applebaum. The 2013/14 holder of the Chair is Professor Timothy Snyder.

International Security Studies at Yale

International Security Studies (ISS) at Yale was founded in 1988 and is co-directed by Paul M. Kennedy and Adam Tooze. Our unit is supported by the Smith Richardson Foundation, the Jewett Foundation, and the Friends of ISS.  John Lewis Gaddis directs the Brady-Johnson Program in Grand Strategy, which operates under ISS’s auspices.

Although ISS is not a degree-granting program, our faculty members write and teach about numerous aspects of international history and world affairs.  Our interests range from high politics and economic change to cultural transfer and nongovernmental activism.  We are pedagogical pluralists—interested in explaining the genealogy of modern times, and developing holistic, comprehensive ways to think about the twenty-first century.

ISS organizes an array of extracurricular activities each academic year.  We host lectures, dinner debates, conferences, colloquia, and discussion groups.  In addition to publishing a paper series about the historical roots of contemporary issues, we provide competitive summer grants to support language training and archival research for Yale students. Postdoctoral fellowships and predoctoral fellowships are available to scholars from other universities, and for serving members of the U.S. Armed Forces.