CfP: Chronologics: Periodisation in a Global Context

Via George Khalil (Transregionale Studien) and Harald Rosenbach (Max Weber Stiftung) comes a call for papers for a conference on periodization.

Epochal divisions and terminologies such as “antiquity,” “baroque,” the “classical age,” the “renaissance,” or “postmodernity,” the “long 19th,” or “short 20th” centuries are more than mere tools used pragmatically to arrange school curricula or museum collections. Terminologies like these carry particular imaginations and meanings for the discursive construction of nations and communities. The aim of this conference is to uncover some of the dynamics behind particular cultural and historical uses of periodization schemes as concepts for ordering the past.

Conference: Berlin, December 7–9, 2017
Application deadline: April 30, 2017
Call for papers (pdf)

Some Useful Categories of Knowledge for Understanding Migration

A good decision is based on knowledge… –Plato

I never thought Plato and I shared a common scholarly interest. My research on the millions of eastern Europeans who emigrated to the United States (ancestors of the subjects of Bruce Springsteen songs) at the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries seemed far removed from what I had once thought were the lofty realms of the the history of knowledge. Even so, armed with two thinkers, Max Weber and Michel Foucault, as well as reams of bureaucratic sources, I started to think about my research in terms of state knowledge in the surveillance and control of migration.1 But what about the everyday experiences of people in transit, experiences as banal as changing trains, which didn’t exactly gel with ideas from the great minds of civilization? Inspectors at Ellis Island didn’t scribble down treatises on free will, yet knowledge must have played a role in everyday experiences… Continue reading “Some Useful Categories of Knowledge for Understanding Migration”

Knowledge and Citizenship

Caryn McTighe Musil at the Association of American Colleges and Universities has written a short programatic article on what the humanities can offer in current disputes over immigration in the United States. Her recommendation that curricula “include a focus on citizenship” suggests one way in which education and knowledge can figure into social, cultural, and political developments in societies with significant levels of immigration.1 Continue reading “Knowledge and Citizenship”

Towards a History of Missionary Knowledge? Impressions from the Conference “Mapping Entanglements”

On February 10 and 11, we held a conference entitled “Mapping Entanglements: Missionary Knowledge and ‘Materialities’ across Space and Time (16th–20th centuries).” Broadly speaking, the conference posited that what we know about missionaries is not the same as what we know from missionaries, and it aimed to examine the history of the latter under the rubric of “missionary knowledge.” Accordingly, conference participants explored how missionaries produced knowledge as well as how this knowledge traveled and transformed from generation to generation and location to location. Continue reading “Towards a History of Missionary Knowledge? Impressions from the Conference “Mapping Entanglements””

Related Events @ the GHI

The GHI’s new focus on History of Knowledge was already much in evidence in 2016. In 2017, knowledge and its diverse histories continue to be a significant focus in our event schedule. We started the year with a session on religious knowledge at the 131st Annual Conference of the AHA, which was followed more recently by an international conference on missionary knowledge. Continue reading “Related Events @ the GHI”

The “Academic ‘Nachwuchs’ ” Label in Germany

Ein Forscher, eine Forscherin ist meines Erachtens mit Abschluss der Promotion wissenschaftlich mündig.

After earning a PhD, a scholar has, in my opinion, reached academic adulthood.

I have only ever heard the German term Nachwuchs in an academic context, which I understood to be a label for people rather junior in the profession, “trainees” or “young ones,” if you will. The word sounds strange enough when talking about people with one or more books behind them, families, substantial teaching experience, and so on. Nachwuchs can even mean “offspring,” however, which fits perfectly with the parental term one uses in German for a dissertation advisor—Doktorvater  or Doktormutter. Continue reading “The “Academic ‘Nachwuchs’ ” Label in Germany”

Notes on Colonial-Imperial Knowledge Formation

Historiographical notes blogged by a PhD student in New Zealand, S.D. Carpenter:

A number of scholars of British India have sought to understand the ways in which British power was exercised through constructing knowledge about Indian societies, including their histories and literatures, languages and geographies. At one end of the spectrum, Continue reading “Notes on Colonial-Imperial Knowledge Formation”

Photographs: Organizing, Teaching, Storing, Learning, Practicing, Selling, and Using Knowledge

Here are the ten photographs from which the current selection of randomized header images on this blog were drawn. All of these images are housed at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. What do these photographs have to do with the history of knowledge? What stories do they tell? What questions do they raise? Continue reading “Photographs: Organizing, Teaching, Storing, Learning, Practicing, Selling, and Using Knowledge”