Thinking globally about history
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From Istanbul to Tokyo: An Interview with Eric Tagliacozzo
Interviews | April 24, 2019

From Istanbul to Tokyo: An Interview with Eric Tagliacozzo

In examining the annual movement of pilgrims from the opposite ends of the Indian Ocean, Prof. Eric Tagliacozzo taps in to a process that has been taking place for more than five hundred years: first by sail, then by steam, then by air. Connections between Southeast Asia and the Middle East do not center solely on Islam. They are part of a far more complex network of trade, movement, and cross-cultural exchange. These connections between Southeast Asia and the Middle East are part of a far wider set of connections between peoples along the entire Indian Ocean littoral from eastern Africa to the South China Sea. We talked with Tagliacozzo about his previous works and his contributions to scholarship on the Indian Ocean world as well as transnational and global history. We spoke about his days as a 22-year old college student interviewing spice traders from Japan to East Africa. Our discussion ranged from illicit trade in rhinoceros horns to itinerant peoples' methods of resistance to colonial rule. And we discussed how, often, those two things were one-and-the-same.

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Elites Connecting Eastern and Western Europe: An Interview with Dina Gusejnova
Interviews | April 3, 2019

Elites Connecting Eastern and Western Europe: An Interview with Dina Gusejnova

Dina Gusejnova, a lecturer in Modern history at the University of Sheffield, looks into this unstable period through the eyes of German-speaking liberal intellectuals who belonged to the old and new nobility of Germany, Austria, and Russia. In her book, European Elites and Ideas of Empire, 1917-1957 (Cambridge University Press, 2016) she analyses how these German-speaking intellectuals used their old networks to call for a new Europe. This fascinating book provides a transnational history of the idea of Europe, linking histories of Germany and Russia, which are usually told separately, through the eyes of a cosmopolitan network of authors. We discussed the place of the old nobility in the new world order, transnational approaches to history, the importance of bridging isolated national historiographies, and the changing patterns of historical research in the last decade.

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Histories of the Big and Small: An Interview with Mark Mazower
Interviews | February 20, 2019

Histories of the Big and Small: An Interview with Mark Mazower

Mark Mazower discusses the experience of telling a personal narrative in a historical context, the struggles and opportunities presented by writing history with a focus on nations and people outside of the immediate center of power, and the importance of revisiting early twentieth-century political discussions in our current moment.

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How Do We Teach Global History? A Toynbee Prize Conversation
Interviews | January 9, 2019

How Do We Teach Global History? A Toynbee Prize Conversation

What are the current challenges for teaching global history? What materials or techniques have proven effective? What are the pedagogical implications of these approaches? We've invited five academics, representing a variety of institutions around the world, to reflect upon their experiences in designing and delivering courses to undergraduate and graduate students in global history.

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Islam, Constitutionalism, and the Nation State in Afghanistan: An Interview with Faiz Ahmed
Interviews | December 5, 2018

Islam, Constitutionalism, and the Nation State in Afghanistan: An Interview with Faiz Ahmed

In his book, Afghanistan Rising: Islamic Law and Statecraft between the Ottoman and British Empires, Faiz Ahmed, Associate Professor of History at Brown University, tells a story of a modern Islamic project of statecraft and legal synthesis, undertaken against a background of broader regional connections. The early legal history of Afghanistan is an account of an Islamic politics that did not, as in contemporary cases, grasp for imported European legal codes. Nor did it constitute a case of Salafi or "Wahhabi" ideologies of Islamic reform. Rather, King Amanullah's project emerged out of a rich history of what Ahmed calls "interislamic" cultural exchange and modern visions of politics, including a unique adaptation and application of the shariʿa to the form of the modern nation-state.

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Writing the Histories of People in Motion: An Interview with Laura Madokoro
Interviews | November 14, 2018

Writing the Histories of People in Motion: An Interview with Laura Madokoro

Laura Madokoro spotlights the history of migrants leaving the post-1949 People's Republic of China for the then-British colony of Hong Kong and beyond. This movement—and the millions of people who fled China—was largely ignored, especially when compared to displaced peoples in Europe. In addition to recovering these stories, Dr. Madokoro argues that framed in the context of the Cold War they can tell us much about humanitarianism, geopolitics and the shadow of settler colonialism, from the Antipodes to North America and South Africa. We met with Laura Madokoro in Montreal, where she works as a historian at McGill University, and discussed the politics of migration during the global Cold War, the revelatory nature of language when describing people in motion, and her current and future research plans.

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Development Politics and India's Cold War Triangle: An Interview with David Engerman
Interviews | October 24, 2018

Development Politics and India's Cold War Triangle: An Interview with David Engerman

In The Price of Aid: The Economic Cold War in India (Harvard University Press, 2018), David Engerman, a leading historian of US and Soviet modernization ideology and expertise, extends his focus to the intricacy of Cold War competition in India. Through an adroit study of Indian, American, and Soviet domestic and international politics regarding aid for Indian development, he analyzes the complex dance behind how and why particular development projects were built. The debates that surrounded these projects attempted to shape, and were in turn shaped by Cold War conflict and the political maneuvering of the Indian state. Our conversation ranges widely—from the arc of Engerman's remarkable intellectual career, the evolution of the historiography on development, and the relationship between decolonization and the Cold War, to that of governmentality and geopolitics.

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Exploring the History of Science and Religion: An Interview with Job Kozhamthadam
Interviews | October 4, 2018

Exploring the History of Science and Religion: An Interview with Job Kozhamthadam

Few today acknowledge the role of religion in the development of modern science and technology. But scholars have shown that religion has actively contributed to the rise of modern science. Weh sat down to discuss this and other matters with the award-winning historian and philosopher of science, Job Kozhamthadam. Kozhamthadam is one of a unique breed of scholars who specialize in the history and philosophy of science—unique, because he also happens to be a Catholic Jesuit priest. His journey from a young boy in a nondescript town in South India to being acclaimed as a pioneer in the history of science and religion in India is interesting and inspiring.

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Troubling the Empire: An Interview with Antoinette Burton
Interviews | September 6, 2018

Troubling the Empire: An Interview with Antoinette Burton

The British Empire in its various guises remains a rich historiographical field. Over the course of the past forty years, imperial history has undergone a series of changes stemming from the cultural turn, postmodernism, and postcolonial studies. A central element of this has been to break away from the male-dominated approaches to the 'Official Mind', and incorporating gender, race, and class into our understanding of Empire. Professor Antoinette Burton of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has been at the forefront of this change, as part of a wider group of scholars breaking down the insular boundaries of the field. We spoke about the pitfalls of studying the Empire in the current era of revisionism and imperial nostalgia, and how we as historians can combat the challenges raised by the amnesia surrounding colonial actions. We also discussed how both collaborative projects and the field of World History can enrich our understanding of the British Empire, as well as the benefits of these approaches to early career researchers.

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Populism in History: An Interview with Federico Finchelstein
Interviews | July 24, 2018

Populism in History: An Interview with Federico Finchelstein

In his book, From Fascism to Populism in History (University of California Press, 2017) Federico Finchelstein provides the reader with an understanding of many of the most important theories of populism and how these theories stack up in the face of the 'messiness' of the global historical record. This hybrid intellectual-political history demonstrates how fascism and populism are connected but not the same, and why this matters for understanding the world today. In doing so, Finchelstein shows why we cannot afford not to have historians engage in contemporary political conversations.

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Negotiating Maritime Power in Early Modern East Asia: An Interview with Adam Clulow
Interviews | July 5, 2018

Negotiating Maritime Power in Early Modern East Asia: An Interview with Adam Clulow

Clulow's work on the Dutch East India Company (VOC) and its role in the turbulent political environment of East Asia challenges standard views of power relations in the diplomatic encounter between early modern Europe and East Asia. Looking at conflict and negotiation between a European overseas enterprise and a powerful military government in Japan, Clulow questions analytical categories such as state and company, piracy and privateering, diplomacy and violence. The VOC, he shows, was a master shapeshifter, altering its appearance whenever it needed to. When it came to Tokugawa Japan, the Company was in fact relatively small and weak. Clulow's work challenges widespread notions about early modern relationships between Europe and East Asia, and the evolution of modern state institutions.

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