Seminar and Plenary Panel Schedule

To skip down to details about the themes and guiding questions for seminar sessions, click here.

Thursday, September 20

Plenary Panel (5:00–7:00 PM): “Empires and Political Economy in the Longue Durée” (Isenberg SOM, Room 210; For all Seminar Participants, open to all Five College Faculty and Students)

    • Moderator: Mwangi-wa-Gĩthĩnji, Economics Department, UMass-Amherst
    • Professor Frederick Cooper, “Empires Old and New”
    • Professor Christopher Chase-Dunn, “The Comparative Evolutionary World-systems Perspective”
    • Professor Maya Shatzmiller, “Islam and the ‘Great Divergence’: Was Marīnid Morocco a precursor of the Atlantic Empires?”

8:00 PM: Dinner for Seminar Participants and Guests at the UMass Campus Center

Friday, September 21

Seminar sessions for invited participants

9:15 AM: Coffee and Tea
9:30 – 11:30 AM: Seminar Session for invited participants
1:00 – 3:00 PM: Seminar Session for invited participants

Plenary Panel (4:30-6:30 PM): “Empires, Sexuality, and Cultural Mediation, medieval to modern” (Isenberg SOM, Room 108; For all Seminar Participants, open to all Five College Faculty and Students)

    • Moderator: Jane Degenhardt, English Department, UMass-Amherst
    • Professor Sahar Amer, “Naming a Taboo, Recognizing an Identity: The Challenge of Homosexuality in the Arab World Today”
    • Professor Luís Madureira, “From the Edge of the World to the World’s Metropolis: Portugal’s Expansion into Asia”
    • Professor Lydia Liu, “Fakes, Copies, and Counterfeits: Translating the Ethnographic Other in the 18th Century”

All invited to Reception following the Panel (Isenberg SOM, Atrium)

Saturday, September 22

Seminar sessions for invited participants

9:15 AM: Coffee and Tea
9:30 – 11:30 AM: Seminar Session for invited participants
1:00 – 3:00 PM: Seminar Session for invited participants

7:00 PM: Dinner for Seminar Participants at local restaurant

Sunday, September 23

9:15 AM: Coffee and tea
9:30-11:00 AM: Closing discussion of emergent questions and future collaboration (Held at Campus Center Room 804-8)

WSIP Seminar Sessions: Themes and Guiding Questions

(Sessions I-IV are in Gordon Hall; Session V, on Sunday, is in the Campus Center 804-8. For Visitors: escorts to Gordon Hall will depart at 8:40 AM from the Campus Hotel lobby.)

The WSIP seminar will have five sessions, two Friday, two Saturday, and one on Sunday morning, for reflection on the event and discussion of future projects and possibilities. Each of the Friday and Saturday sessions will focus on a key theme and set of questions.

Many of the submitted papers bear on more than one of the themes, but for purposes of focus we have identified “key” papers for each session. The moderator will ensure that in the course of the session the authors of the key papers have an opportunity to say a few words about their papers, although not necessarily in a sequence at the opening of the session. We ask all seminar members to take a look at the key papers for each session in advance of that session; yet in discussion feel free to refer not only to those papers but also any others that seem relevant. On the website under “Seminar Papers,” the papers are clustered by session.

Print-copies of the abstracts will be available, but we also encourage you to download the set of abstracts from the website (see the top of the Abstracts page) and bring your copy with you to sessions. We will also have a few packets of all seminar papers at all sessions, but only a few copies, so please print out any papers you think you’d like to refer to in print.

Below is the brief schedule of sessions, followed by the list of key papers and guiding questions.

SESSION I, Friday Morning, 9/21, 9:15-11:30

World History as Frame for Political Economy: Methods & Questions

SESSION II, Friday Afternoon, 9/21, 1:00-3:00

Empires, Power, Accretion, and Change: Different Models & Interacting Processes

SESSION III, Saturday Morning, 9/22, 9:15-11:30

Political Economies–Symbolic, Sexual, and Material

SESSION IV, Saturday Afternoon, 9/22, 1:00-3:00

Present and Future Stakes: What has World Studies Got to do with a Just World?

SESSION V, Sunday Morning, 9/22, 9:15-11:00 [NOTE: MEETS IN THE CAMPUS CENTER, RM 804-8]

Looking Back and Looking Forward

Key Papers and Guiding Questions for Sessions

SESSION I: Friday Morning, 9:15-11:30 (Gordon Hall 302-304)

World History as Frame for Political Economy: Methods & Questions

Key papers: Aksan, Fuchs, Robbins, Morrison, Lim, Mikhail
NOTE: We use the term political economy here as shorthand and also to point to the relations between political formations (including large or small states and empires) and all dimensions of economy, including trade, labor and financial systems.

Guiding questions:
What have been the dominant models for study of political economy in your discipline in the last 10-20 years (including, if relevant, dynamic interaction with cultural symbols, aesthetics, and identities); and how does a world-studies framework change, supplement, reinforce, trouble, diverge from, or bear on those models?

What are the most problematic or challenging aspects of such a framework? And what are the most promising or viable directions in which it can take us?

Are there important distinctions to make between a world-studies or world history framework and a transnational, diasporic, or global framework of study? Can they work in tandem? How should we consider the dangers of intellectual colonization or erasure, or master narratives? What kind of collaborations or methods can work to address the dangers?

If our own research analyzes more regional or local materials, how can those materials balance, guide, correct, or make use of a world-historical perspective?

SESSION II, Friday Afternoon, 1-3 PM (Gordon Hall 302-304)

Empires, Power, Accretion, and Change: Different Models & Interacting Processes

Key papers: Payne, Sen, Glebov, Madureira, Chase-Dunn, Sugerman

Guiding questions:
What does a world-historical perspective freshly reveal about how empires become empires? What does it uncover about how they form, expand, interact? What does it uncover in the ways that law, armies, sexuality, trade, technologies, arts—and the subjectivities they generate—shape the longevity or expansionist thrust of empires?

Instead of aiming to pin down definitions of empire vs other kinds of state, is it fruitful to consider the dynamics and significance of empires’ relations with other states, locally or transregionally, and across historical time—including but not limited to other empires?

And likewise, what comes into view when we study the interactions of such states with the physical environment?

Where does agency fit into a world-studies framework, especially one that analyzes empires or other hegemony-seeking states? What kinds of social life or agency operate strongly against the momentum of empires? Is it always a matter of defensive or insurgent agencies?

To pursue these questions of agency, do we need first to ask “what is a person,” or “what are persons,” and “what are communities”?

Defering questions about the present for our last session, can we nonetheless ask what kind of longue durée accounts we might want to conceptualize, or not? And why or why not?

SESSION III: Saturday Morning, 9:15-11:30 (Gordon Hall 302-304)

Political Economies–Symbolic, Sexual, and Material

Key papers: Liu, Moralee, Degenhardt, Amer, Almeida-Beveridge

Guiding questions:
How has recent research in material culture and literary studies refined our questions about base and superstructure? Where and how does political economy meet culture? What, in particular, do transnational, transhemispheric, and long historical approaches bring to these discussions?

In light of this recent work, how can we think freshly about intelligentsia, artisans, and artists in relation to empires or other states and to postcolonial societies?

Do transhemispheric or inter-imperial histories of intellectual and cultural-aesthetic formations point toward new modes of historiography? Do they clarify economic questions? Or catalyze new postcolonial critiques and visions?

Do vocabularies in the fields of philosophy, psychology, space studies, or body studies (including gender, class, ethnicity/race, and religion) help us think through these questions? Which seem most viable and why?

SESSION IV: Saturday Afternoon, 1-3PM (Gordon Hall 302-304)

Present and Future Stakes: What has World Studies Got to do with a Just World?

Key papers: Cooper, Hanson, Higginson, Keita, Mednicoff

Guiding questions:
Why pursue research within a world-studies framework? Does it have ethical stakes?
What are the gains and risks and how balance them?

How can such research speak to contemporary geopolitics, in classrooms, in publications, and in other venues?

How might scholars employ such a framework beside or together with other methods and perspectives?

SESSION V: Sunday Morning, 9:15-11:00 (Campus Center Room 804-8)

Looking Back and Looking Forward

What has emerged in our discussions? And where do we want to go from here?

Discussion of special journal issues, an essay collection, teaching, future collaboration.

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