A Global Nineteenth Century?

Organiser: Joanna de Groot (History)

Is the notion of a “global” nineteenth century good to think with ?

While some recent scholarship has seen the period as the era of the ‘first globalisation’, other work remains focussed on the prominent place of ‘nations’, or on specific localities, activities or social groupings. There are also many debates about the ‘universal’, or ’imperial’ dissemination of cultural forms, political practices, and material or intellectual influences While movements of people, goods, ideas, and art objects in the nineteenth century undoubtedly created varied links and networks at several levels, it is not always clear how this is best understood.

This project will begin by holding 3or 4 interdisciplinary workshops which will interrogate key assumptions and scholarly practices  which underpin or influence the use of terms like ‘global’, ‘provincial’ ,‘international’, ‘local’,  ‘transnational’, ‘colonial’, or ‘cosmopolitan’ from  cross cultural perspectives.  They would take the form of panels in which 2 / 3 scholars from different disciplinary backgrounds and different geographical interests (local, imperial, national, non-European, ‘universal’) present their views on these issues with a view to opening up extended debate among all those present.  The priority in each workshop will be to maximise opportunities for intellectual exchange. This will sharpen and enrich the intellectual focus and content of participants’ thinking on the ‘global’, its cognates, and its alternatives, in nineteenth century contexts, and provide a basis for the construction of innovative research projects. It will also move forward the intellectual agendas of those involved in nineteenth century studies through rigorous cross disciplinary and cross cultural consideration of the value and limitations of currently well-used concepts. 

The project complements the existing strands in historical and cultural studies, and will enable us to develop leading edge work on the ‘long nineteenth century’ with explicitly cross-cultural as well as interdisciplinary dimensions. From interrogations of the ‘exotic’ aspects of nineteenth century art, literature and society to exploration of the contacts, conflicts and exchanges which shaped them, and the concepts an methods which enable us to do such things there is real potential for fruitful conversations and initiatives.

Anyone interested in participating in this initiative and developing its activities is warmly encouraged to contact Joanna de Groot via joanna.degroot@york.ac.uk