Tag: Harvard University

CFP: The Pacific in the World, Harvard Graduate Student Conference on International History (March 22-23, 2018)

The organizing committee for the Harvard Graduate Student Conference on International History (Con-IH) invites graduate students to submit proposals for its eighteenth annual conference. This year’s theme is the Pacific in the World. The conference will take place at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts on March 22-23, 2018. By geographic area, the Pacific Ocean is…

Global Interior: A Conversation with Megan Black About the U.S. Interior Department in the American World Order

During the middle of a troop and advising “surge” to Afghanistan following the election of Barack Obama, U.S. Defense Department officials and Afghan President Hamid Karzai made a blockbuster announcement: Afghanistan, formerly best known for its export of opium, was said to be on the brink of becoming the “Saudi Arabia of lithium,” a rare mineral essential for the production of modern computers and smartphones. American geologists had stumbled onto dusty old Soviet maps of the country produced during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s. Their quality was not terrific, but they hinted at enormous mineral deposits hitherto untapped that could turn Afghanistan from a large net recipient of foreign aid to a state flush with extraction-based revenues, like neighboring Turkmenistan, or Caspian Sea oil and gas giant Azerbaijan. American geologists soon conducted aerial surveys of Afghanistan that allowed them to photograph the interior of the Central Asian state. Thanks to American-made “advanced gravity and magnetic measuring equipment,” the U.S. had produced “a three-dimensional profile of mineral deposits below the earth’s surface” and “the most comprehensive geologic survey of Afghanistan ever conducted.”

The announcement, made in 2010, seemed like good news for the Afghans. But beyond obvious ongoing questions about when (if?) security conditions in Afghanistan will ever permit mining corporations the confidence to make major investments in that country, the episode also raises questions about the role of the United States in th world and the nature of sovereignty in which access to mining data may be just as crucial as political sovereignty over the piece of real estate in which this niobium deposit or that lithium bed might be located. What does political sovereignty mean for a post-2001 Afghan state if its main real hope for self-financing comes from the interface of U.S.-produced data with an international bidding process over which an Afghan people may have only limited say? While the contradictions are perhaps particularly vivid in the case of Afghanistan, the drama of how extractive industries are entangled with the sovereignty of less powerful states and nations—not least Indigenous Peoples—is an ongoing story. Recent events such as the Standing Rock protests make this ever more clear.

Megan Black, author of “The Global Interior” and our latest guest to the Global History Forum

The work of our most recent guest to the Global History Forum, Megan Black, makes clear the history behind episodes like these. A Lecturer in History at Harvard University and a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History, Black studies the United States Department of the Interior as an institutional prism through which to see a new history of U.S. global reach since 1890. Often misunderstood as an obscure branch of the U.S. government, the Department of the Interior, in Black’s account, turns out to be a crucial agent of American power toward the outside world in the nineteenth and twentieth century. Rather than seeing Interior as a mere manager of that which was already “inside” the U.S. polity, she sees it as the crucial actor in a process of “interiorization” whereby resources once external to the American homeland (whether in the North American West or anywhere in the world) were made legible and potentially extractable.

While one might expect Interior’s mission to have ended once the frontier was closed and the American West swelled with settlers, Black’s account shows how Interior reinvented itself as a crucial agent for the discovery and management of “strategic minerals” around the world — first in nearby theaters in the Americas, and later globally. Studying the rise and fall of the Department of the Interior and the logics of “interiorization” it relied upon, then, constitutes not just a lens to understand the nature of American hegemony in the 20th century. It’s also a crucial story for understanding how what it meant to be sovereign changed in light of the discovery of new aerospace, computing, and nuclear technologies, and the complex mineral chains required to maintain them. While our conversation with Black therefore provides a lens into one of the most dynamic historiographical literatures today—namely that of U.S. foreign relations—it also provides a terrific example of what it might mean for scholars of global history to take minerals and mining more seriously as subjects for investigation. Outgoing Toynbee Prize Foundation Executive Director Timothy Nunan recently sat down with Dr. Black to discuss her research as well as her forthcoming book manuscript, The Global Interior.…

Policing the “Slums of the World”: A Conversation About Exporting American Police Expertise with Stuart Schrader

As Americans debate their choice of President, enthusiasm for long-term ground wars in the Middle East seems at an all-time low. Both candidates debate the merits of drone warfare in distant lands, or even the desirability (and viability) of a ban on Muslims’ entry to the United States, but what does seem unanimous after two…

Seminar: “Approaches to Global History” (Weatherhead Initiative on Global History, Harvard Univrsity)

For readers of the Global History Blog based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, here’s a recent call for seminar series titled “Approaches to Global History” by The Weatherhead Initiative on Global History (WIGH) at Harvard University on alternate Mondays, 4-6pm, during  the Fall and Spring Semesters of the 2016-17 academic year. Program: Oct. 31 — Sebastian Schmidt (Department of History, Massachusetts…

Post-Doctoral Position, Global American Studies, The Charles Warren Center (Harvard University)

Open positions continue to abound for historians working on global history! Here’s another  job opportunity announced from the The Charles Warren Center at Harvard University for a post-doctoral position on Global American Studies, with the possibility of staying on for one year starting July 1, 2017 and enlarged for a second. The call for applications explains: The Charles Warren…

Weatherhead Initiative on Global History Fellowship 2017-2018 (Harvard University)

For those readers of the Global History Blog looking for a post-doctoral fellowship or a chance to engage with the vibrant international and global history community at Harvard University, here’s the perfect opportunity – the Global History Fellowships of The Weatherhead Initiative on Global History (WIGH) at Harvard University. (Readers of the Global History Forum might…

CON-IH Conference (Harvard University, March 9-10, 2017)

Graduate students interested in global and international history, take heed – the call for applications has gone up for the seventeenth annual Harvard Graduate Student Conference on International History (Con-IH). As the announcement explains, this year’s theme is migration in international and global history: The organizing committee for the Harvard Graduate Student Conference on International History…

Harvard Graduate Student Conference on International History (CON-IH)

Fresh off our recent announcement about Tufts University’s upcoming graduate student international and global history conference, we’re pleased to post another recent call for papers from one of the other international history centers in the Boston area, namely the Harvard Graduate Student Conference on International History (Con-IH 16), slated to take place on March 10-11,…

Weatherhead Initiative on Global History Fellowship (Harvard University)

If you’ve been following our blog at the Toynbee Prize Foundation, you will have noticed that several of our longer Global History Forum pieces, like the interviews with Steven Serels and Julio Robert Decker, or our review of Sven Beckert’s Empire of Cotton, have touched on scholars involved with the Weatherhead Initiative on Global History at…

Academy Scholars Program (Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies)

As we’re in the midst of jobs-posting season, here’s another attractive posting, this time from the Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies for two-year postdoctoral fellowships.  The posting reads as follows: The Academy Scholars Program identifies and supports outstanding scholars at the start of their careers whose work combines disciplinary excellence in the social sciences…