History, Other Disciplines, and Global Encounters, 1400–1800

AHA Session 14
Friday, January 2, 2015: 1:00 PM-3:00 PM
Empire Ballroom East (Sheraton New York, Second Floor)
Surekha Davies, Western Connecticut State University
History’s Interdisciplinarity
Felipe Fernández-Armesto, University of Notre Dame
Extreme Exploration—Interdisciplinarity at MIT
Mary Fuller, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Ethnohistory and Encounter Theory
Matthew Restall, Pennsylvania State University
The Politics of Global Transfer
Claudia Swan, Northwestern University
Questions of Trust in Pre-modern Global Encounters
Michael Wintroub, University of California, Berkeley

Session Abstract

Scholars of pre-modern global encounters engage with sources ranging from archaeological remains and artefacts, to travel and geographical writing, to administrative, legal and commercial documents, and visual imagery. Nonetheless, there are disciplinary variations in the types of sources and approaches preferred as well as the questions and themes addressed. This roundtable seeks to provoke discussion on the contributions and limitations of multiple disciplines to the study of global encounters c.1400-1800. The five panellists trained in history, art history, literature and anthropology, will reflect on the methodologies from these disciplines and also on approaches from disciplines beyond them, from sociology to science. Each will speak for seven minutes on a different theme or methodological challenge. The panellists will pose questions for the audience on the cruxes, problems and routes that they see towards richer, more rigourous approaches to the field. We envisage substantial discussion time after the brief presentations.

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