"Global" and Entangled Histories of Early Modernity, Part 1
Over the past two decades, a growing body of scholarship on premodern circulation across political, linguistic, and religious boundaries has helped transform historians’ conceptualization of comparison, commensuration, and periodization. Employing a wide array of methods and varying scales of analysis, historians of the old world “oecumene” have emphasized the extent to which people, objects (including textual artifacts), practices, artistic styles, and even interpretive frameworks traversed spaces and temporal zones, and the implications of such dense circulations for our prevailing notions of cultural stasis and civilizational divides.
This double-session workshop intends to both take stock of this historiographical shift and to push the conversation forward by encouraging specialists to draw out common themes and shared methodological and conceptual challenges. It will feature eight presentations by young historians working across Eurasia (from North Africa and Europe to Central Asia and the Indian Ocean) and applying a variety of lenses to the study of material culture, textual production and consumption, architecture, and political economy from the fourteenth to the eighteenth (and, indeed, twenty-first) centuries. From addressing mobility on a small scale to considering trans-oceanic travel, and from attending to temporal changes over a human life course to those spanning centuries, the objects and analytical frames introduced in these presentations will interrogate some of the prevailing historiographical assumptions about early modernity.
In order to maximize opportunities for cross-fertilization across fields of specialization, and to encourage greater participation by the audience, presenters will pre-circulate/post in advance an "object of inquiry" (an artifact, a transcription, a translation). At the beginning of the workshop they would each frame their object and the methodological and/or conceptual problem they are hoping to tackle through it in a brief 5-10 minute opening comment. The remainder of the time would be dedicated to discussing participants' chosen objects and to drawing connections and contrasts among them.