The term 'globalization' is often perceived to apply primarily to the contemporary period, denoting capitalism's triumphant spread into even the remotest areas of the world. Yet the transnational circulation of goods, people and ideas—and the perception of the entire world as the possible ground for such transactions—is a long-standing and even definitive modern phenomenon.
Over the whole of the modern era, nations, regions, and localities have become increasingly shaped and reconfigured by global circulations of peoples, ideas, texts, images, and goods—circulations that provoked reactions ranging from enthusiastic appreciation to anxiety to intense hostility.
From the imperial projects of 19th-century Britain to the pan-African imagination of the 'black diaspora' to the UN’s Declaration on Human Rights, both hegemonic and resistant modern cultures have consistently drawn on an imagination of global transmission and coalescence in order to frame and advance their disparate agendas.
Despite the crucial role the conception of the global has played across a range of intellectual, aesthetic and political projects, conversations regarding these efforts have tended to be hampered by their isolation within various disciplinary approaches. These include imperial and postcolonial studies, globalization studies, human rights work, transnational sociology, contemporary philosophy and so on; ironically, the study of global circulation has been hampered by a lack of exchange and circulation on an intellectual level.
The Cultures of the Global research initiative aims to fill this gap by bringing together scholars from the fields of History, History of Art, English and Related Literatures, Politics, Philosophy and Human Rights to reconsider the complex role that the concept of the global has played throughout the modern period.
In providing a ground for examining how the global is defined and analysed across the disciplines, we will offer an opportunity to find new and fruitful links between these various approaches and new ways of conceiving of the global as an ongoing and widespread subject for the modern imagination.