Blog Archive

HIS 517: Mobilities & Connections [Graduate Theme Seminar] (Spring 2015)

This seminar examines expanding circuits of global mobility from the early modern period to the present, and considers methodological implications of taking mobilities and connections as object of analysis. We will examine historical processes and dynamics on multiple scales from the perspective of people, commodities, and ideas in motion, along with dynamic networks and material or cultural effects these circuits generate; and the regulatory systems that emerge in consequence of increasingly robust flows. Expanding global connections and their effects produce new constraints and open a wide range of fresh possibilities for both states and diverse groups of people. The course will look closely at the interplay between unprecedented mobility and the restrictions imposed by modern political regimes, and the shifting relationship between people and real and imagined political entities from the global (empires, internationalisms, global governance bodies), to the provincial (kingdoms, nationalisms, nation-states). Organized thematically around mobile people, commodities, and ideas, and global institutions, we will examine disaporic migrant connections, global radical and anti-colonial movements, material and cultural effects of long-distance commodity production and exchange, and the circulation and expanding scope of institutional ideas and practices. The course will be interdisciplinary, incorporating comparative and monographic historical and anthropological studies, theoretical writings, and selections from literary or historical primary source texts; and transregional, examining particular themes via close consideration of Asia, Africa, and the Americas, and their interconnections. Readings will include books or articles by scholars such as Benedict Anderson, Sebouh Aslanian, Sven Beckert, Lauren Benton, Engseng Ho, Ilham Khuri-Makdisi, Mark Mazower, Adam McKeown, Jeremy Prestholdt, Maia Ramnath, and Sanjay Subrahmanyam (links above are to recommended or required books ordered for the course).

Jewish History’s Lesson for Handling Ebola In 1713 Plague Outbreak, Jews Were Placed in Quarantine

Climate March in Historical Perspective

Some of you may be interested in my recent blog entry on the People’s Climate March, which also seeks to place the climate movement in hist perspective:

HIS 340.03-J: Cities & Global Connections (Fall 2014)

Cities have long served as connecting points between geographically dispersed places. Over the last couple of centuries, urban populations have grown more and more rapidly, and technologies of mobility and communication have made them focal points of increasingly global flows. They have also become centers of tighter political control. The rise of Western world empires and political and economic imperialism have been critical in shaping migration patterns and the circulation of technologies and commodities. This course examines cities – densely populated, extensively built up, intensively surveilled urban zones – and the mobile people, ideas and commodities that shape them. We consider urban expansion from the early modern period onwards, and focus on the era after the late nineteenth century, when cities displace other spaces as the paradigmatic arenas of modern life. Starting with an introduction to key concepts, questions and trajectories in urban history, we then turn to case studies of major cities from a variety of locations (in Asia, Africa, Europe, the Americas). While the course is global in scope, we focus on cities that were integral to relationships of modern colonialism and imperialism, such as London, Mumbai and New York. Reading and discussion topics may include: government planning and urban development, everyday life, built form and architecture, public health and sanitation, policing and surveillance, housing and poverty relief, global capitalist transformations, or the politics of cultural difference, and the formation and negotiation of public spheres.


HIS 380 Caribbean Pirates, Slaves, and Empire

Ahoy there! This class explores the themes of piracy, slavery, and empire in the Caribbean Sea from 1400-1750. Our mission is to trace how various encounters, migrations, trade, and violence shaped the Caribbean as a distinct region. Despite being an island archipelago, the Caribbean was never isolated but intimately tied with Europe, Africa, and the Americas. These distant regions shaped and were in turn transformed by their colonies. We look through the eyes of pirates, slaves, naval commanders, plantation elites, merchants, and government officials. Our path ultimately follows harrowing tales of conquest, resistance, and collaboration. Although a regional study we will also attempt to understand how the Caribbean was a product of transatlantic trade and how the region fit into a global context. This class is discussion based with minimum lectures. Students will dialogue with peers, investigate historical documents, and write three papers. We will read The Caribbean: A History of the Region and Its Peoples, Villains of All Nations: Atlantic Pirates in the Golden Age, and Hurricanes and Society in the British Greater Caribbean, 1624–1783 along with numerous articles. So as Blackbeard the Pirate once said “let’s jump on board, and cut them to pieces!”

HIS 348: Colonial South Asia (Fall 2014)

Colonial South Asia comprised much of what is now India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, and was dubbed ‘the jewel in the crown’ of the British Empire at its height. The Subcontinent’s status as the most populous and lucrative colony of the world’s largest empire profoundly shaped the world of both colonized and colonizer there. This course will consider the political, social, economic and cultural effects of Britain’s rule in the South Asia from about 1700 to 1950.

We will examine in detail key themes such as the rise of the colonial state and changes in sovereignty, the formation of the colonial economy, the remaking of social categories (caste, religious community, gender relations), anti-colonial and nationalist movements, and decolonization. Overall, the course seeks to develop a narrative about South Asia that is attentive to both the profound violence and change wrought by colonialism and the agency of South Asians in the making of their own modernity.