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.

Programme

Thursday, Dec 7th

17.00
Welcoming Addresses

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

17.30 Roundtable: TRACING CHRONOTYPES IN EAST ASIAN PERCEPTIONS OF THE PAST

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

9.00 
Introduction
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)

9.30 THE MAKING OF PERIODIZATION SCHEMES

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

11.30 MORPHOLOGIES AND MODELS OF PERIODIZATION, PART I

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

14.00 AXIAL TIMES AND EPOCHAL BREAKS

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

16.00 TIME AND POWER—PERIODIZATION IN A GLOBAL CONTEXT, PART I

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

18.00 KEY NOTE LECTURE

REGION, NATION, WORLD: SCALE AND THE PROBLEM OF PERIODISATION

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

9.00 POPULAR AND PEDAGOGICAL DIMENSIONS OF PERIODIZATION

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

11.00 TIME AND POWER—PERIODIZATION IN A GLOBAL CONTEXT, PART II

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

13.30 MORPHOLOGIES AND MODELS OF PERIODIZATION, PART II

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)

15.00 Concluding Roundtable: WORLD HISTORY RECONSIDERED: TIME, SPACE, MATERIAL

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

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