British academy

CONFERENCE

Writing the History of the Global

21-22 May 2009
The British Academy, 10 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1

2009 marks a period of approximately ten years of new historical writing which has recently come to be termed 'global history'. Debates over 'globalization' and paradigms such as the 'great divergence' stimulated historians in many specialisms to think about the historical formation of these phenomena. Just how unique, how distinctive, is our current condition of an intense interlinking of economies and polities. We are now re-thinking our histories in relation to those of others in wider parts of the world.

Global history has challenged the old national histories and area studies.  It is now stimulating a recasting of imperial history, and of Altantic world history.  The 'global' in history-writing emerged from postmodernist and postcolonial directions where 'crossing boundaries' and 'beyond borders' joined to the aspirations of 'new imperial history' and to comparative studies of the West and the East. Since this time many historians have pursued wider concepts of 'connectedness' or of 'cosmopolitanism' as these have developed in social theory. Many are now trying to move beyond unilateral comparisons contrasting Europe with China, or Europe with India - and are investigating linkages and interactions between world areas.

This conference provides an opportunity to set out what 'global' approaches to history mean to many of our major historians, how it has changed the questions they ask and the ways they do history.  It raises the limitations and problems of this approach to history, but also opens out new perspectives. These histories also carry many limitations: they have been predominantly economic and political or histories of internationalism. They have not escaped the constraints of the 'big questions' and 'grand periodization' of issues like the 'rise of the West', the 'sources of the great divergence' or the 'crisis of empires'. They raise real questions of how we move from the global to the local, and the methods by which we carry out our research. There are serious questions of language and technical expertise.

The conference brought together those who have written the major books and articles shifting parts of the historical discipline in this directions.  Discussions arising form the conference connect with thinking about history in the wider community, from government policy on climate change, world poverty and global trade, as well as global integration and diversity.  These issues are now major subjects conveyed to a wider public in international museum exhibitions, for example in the British Museum's First Emperor exhibition, the Royal Academy's The Ottomans exhibition, and before that the V&A's Encounters exhibition.


PROGRAMME


21 May

9.00am

Registration

9.30am

Coffee

10.00am

Welcome and Introduction
Maxine Berg (University of Warwick)
Miles Taylor (Director, Institute of Historical Research)

1. Interpretations: Ideas and the Making of Global History
Chair: Patrick O’Brien (LSE)

10.30am

Linda Colley (Princeton University)Narratives in Global History
David Washbrook ( Trinity College, Cambridge) ‘Problems in Global History
Jan de Vries ( University of California, Berkeley), Revolutions in Global History
Discussant: Christopher Bayly (Cambridge University)

12.15pm

Discussion

12.45pm

Lunch

2. Approaches: Methods and Methodologies in Global History
Chair: David Arnold (University of Warwick)

2.00pm

Sanjay Subrahmanyam (UCLA) ‘Connectedness and Global History
Prasannan Parthasarathi ( Boston College), Comparisons in Global History’
R.Bin Wong (UCLA) ‘Regions and Global History
Discussant: Jean-Fréderic Schaub (EHESS, Paris)

3.30pm

Discussion

4.00pm

Tea

3. The Arts and Global History
Chair: Luca Molá (University of Warwick)

4.30pm

Timothy Brook (Chinese Studies, Oxford University) ‘How de we write a Global History of Science when Isaac Newton is European and Chen Chum is Chinese?'
Craig Clunas (History of Art, Oxford University) ‘Global Arts: Comparing and Connecting
J D Hill (The British Museum) 'World Museums and Global Arts'
Discussants: Glenn Adamson (V&A) Giorgio Riello (University of Warwick)

6.00pm

Discussion

6.30pm

Drinks reception

22 May

9.30am

Coffee

4. Dynamics and Concepts: Shaping Global History
Chair: William Gervase Clarence Smith (SOAS)

10.00am

Ken Pomeranz (University of California Irvine), ‘Divergence in Global History
Jan Luiten Van Zanden (Utrecht University), ‘Global history: teamwork by necessity?
Jack Goldstone (George Mason University), ‘Efflorescence in Global History’
Discussant: Kaoru Sugihara (Kyoto University)

11.45am

Discussion

12.15pm

Lunch

5. Knowledge and Global History
Chair: Maxine Berg (University of Warwick)

1.30pm

Dr Simon Schaffer (Cambridge University) Enlightened Knowledge and Global Pathways
Dagmar Schäfer (Max Planck Institute, Berlin) ‘Cultures of Innovation'
Kapil Raj (EHESS, Paris) ‘Knowledge interchange and Colonial Cities
Discussant: Dr. Lissa Roberts (University of Twente)

3.00pm

Discussion

3.30pm

Tea

6. Round Table
Chair: Anne Gerritson (University of Warwick)

4.00pm

Participants for Round Table Day 1 and Day 2

Sevket Pamuk (LSE ); John Darwin (Oxford University); Diogo Ramada Curto (University of Lisbon and UCL); Billy K L So (The Chinese University of Hong Kong); Peer Vries (University of Vienna); Megan Vaughan (Cambridge University)

5.30pm

Drinks reception