CFP: Bids for Autonomy in the Condition of Globality (Columbia University, 13-14 April 2018)

In the nineteenth century, globalization acquired a new intensity which has persisted until this day. As the world became more integrated and interconnected, successive attempts were made by states, peoples, social movements, religions, classes, corporations and regions to assert their autonomy against real and prospective forms of domination, discipline and uniformity imposed by exterior forces and actors. Resistance to globalization has not been an occasional irritant, but a constant presence around the world for more than two centuries. When not challenged outright, dissent has taken the forms of attempts to renegotiate the terms of global integration.

Yet the force of the global has consisted exactly in undermining the very possibility of fully autonomous development for human collectivities everywhere. This two-day conference will examine these bids for autonomy since the 1800s. It takes its inspiration from the work of Michael Geyer and Charles Bright, who in a series of groundbreaking essays since the late 1980s have advanced the idea of a ‘condition of globality’. What Geyer and Bright’s research agenda articulates is how to understand the intensification of
processes of globalization, world-making and global ordering from the mid-nineteenth century onward in their totality without reducing their concrete elements and components to discredited
deterministic master narratives such as Westernization, modernization, or homogenization.

How do we think and write world history in our current moment? How do we use the experience of the last two centuries of globality to articulate a philosophy of history that possesses intelligibility without teleology? The current historical conjuncture of 2007-2017—which is being interpreted in various ways as a backlash against globalization, a global crisis of populism, the breakdown of the post-WWII liberal international order, the end of the American Century—
poses this question with special force.

The conference invites scholars to contribute papers on specific bids for autonomy since 1800. Its aim is both to test and to criticize the globality framework, as well as to thicken it and to clarify some of its historiographical and philosophical implications. Papers can take the form of case studies examining the efforts of particular groups to resist, navigate, or negotiate globality, comparisons across societies or across time periods, or thematically-focused explorations of
important axes of globalization and their effects in particular parts of the world. These globalizing themes include, but are not limited to:

* industrial and agricultural production between interdependence and self-sufficiency
* the national politics of international finance
* the domestic sources of state power in the international sphere
* ideological self-assertion and reproduction
* military thinking and independence in armaments and raw material supply
* state-society and civil-military relations
* bids for intellectual, cultural and religious autonomy
* race and its (re)articulation in processes of globalization

The organizers hope to solicit papers covering every region of the globe and a variety of time periods over the last two centuries, and will gladly consider proposals from advanced graduate students to senior scholars. The two-day conference will consist partly of panel discussions of pre- circulated papers, and partly of curated, seminar-style discussions of pre-circulated readings.

Applicants should send their paper abstracts (max. 400 words) and a short CV (1 page) to by October 1, 2017. Invited participants will be notified by November.

The conference organizers: Ted Fertik (Yale, History), Nick Mulder (Columbia, History), Adam Tooze (Columbia History)

The organizers have set up a website ( where they will be posting relevant material and curating guest contributions in the run-up to the conference to stimulate an ongoing conversation about the history of attempts to recapture and reassert independence in the face of the global.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *