Thematic Series

Each academic year, WHC leadership choses a theme that aims to explore and extend insights from world history. Throughout the year, the WHC hosts workshops, invited speakers, and other collaborative discussions that explore fundamental questions related to the chosen theme. We invite anyone who would like to suggest a theme for our annual thematic series to email Scroll down to learn about our current and past series or jump to a specific series. 

The Limits of Networks in World History: Peripheries and Beyond, 2021-2022

Global Indigeneities: Parallels and Intersections in the Global Fight for Reparations and Treaty Rights, 2020-2021

World History in Turbulent Times, Fall 2019

Global Indigeneities Lunch Series, Spring 2019

Islam in the World Speaker Series, 2018-2019

The Limits of Networks in World History: Peripheries and Beyond, 2021-2022

During the 2021-22 academic year, the World History Center will sponsor a series of events about survival, resistance, and social formation in and beyond the outer reaches of states and other large networks. As a part of these discussions, we will explore the evolving vocabulary for describing small societies, peoples who practice high mobility, and locales where territory and loyalty are contended between multiple peoples. These places have often been called frontiers, borderlands, and peripheries. More recent terminology refers to them variously as zomias, shatter zones, sites of cheap nature, sacrifice zones, and capitalist ruins. What are the conditions of life for the people and non-humans who inhabit such spaces? What are the ramifications of colonialism and resistance, the toll of extractive economies, and the rhetoric of wastelands for understanding global and transregional networks? What sorts of geographies and politics do they produce?  We invite our colleagues interested in these themes and related ones to join us in this year’s discussions.

Spring 2022 Series Events 

Saturday, June 11, 10:30am-4:00pm: "New Approaches to Frontier History," a professional development workshop for teachers hosted by the Alliance for Learning in World History. The workshop will feature three keynote speakers:

  • Dr. Veronica Castillo-Munoz (UC Santa Barbara): “Teaching about the Border: Border Crossings and the Making of the US-Mexico Borderlands”
  • Dr. James Hill (University of Pittsburgh): “Whose Frontier Is It? Decolonizing Narratives in World History”
  • Dr. Matt Matsuda (Rutgers University): “Water’s Edge: Histories and Frontiers in Pacific and Oceanian Worlds”

Past Events

Wednesday, March 16, 12:30-2:00pm: "Theorizing Networks in World History" with Patrick Manning.

Wednesday, September 29, 12:00pm - 1:30pm: Read & Discuss with Sharika D. Crawford “Limits at Sea State Claims: Territorial Consolidation, and Boundary Disputes, 1880s–1950s.” 

Wednesday, October 13, 12:00pm - 1:30pm: Read & Discuss with David Igler “Pacific Worlds, Indigenous Travelers, and Knowledge Production." 

Wednesday, November 3, 12:00pm - 1:30pm: Roundtable: Ottoman and post-Ottoman Peripheries. 

Click here for a PDF version of the series poster. 

Global Indigeneities: Parallels and Intersections in the Global Fight for Reparations and Treaty Rights, 2020-2021

This series, held in the 2020-2021 academic year, aimed to define and explore connections between past and present movements of resistance to settler colonialism and anti-Blackness. Black and Indigenous liberation movements have often taken different trajectories, even when they are in coalition with one another. The histories of enslavement and expropriation are too often understood separately from one another. However, during the Summer of 2020, one multicultural movement for social justice advocated for toppling problematic monuments, forcing a change in racist symbols, challenging lapsed treaty rights, and bringing unprecedented attention to racialized economic inequality and police violence against both Black and Indigenous peoples. The Global Indigeneities working group seeks to explore the connected and global histories of these two  [Anchor] movements.

Click here for more information about the series speakers. 

World History in Turbulent Times, Fall 2019

In the fall 2019 semester, the WHC hosted a lunch series about using the study of world history during tubulent times. The series description is below: 

We live in turbulent times. Climate collapse is already displacing populations, even as governments and corporations continue to support the burning of biomass and fossil fuels. Democracy and  self-determination are under attack around the world.

Fortunately, in every place where authoritarianism is on the rise, and in every instance where hope seems to recede, people are fighting back. When they do so, they often appeal to the past to condemn the injustices of the present. Indigenous people reference ancestral land claims, climate refugees brandish images of historical landscapes, democracy activists 
cite founding documents,  advocates for reparations for the descendants of enslaved people calculate the economic cost of ancestral toil and dispossession.

Our fall luncheon series is a series of conversations inspired by these observations and prompted  by the following question:


Click here for more information about the series speakers. 

Lunch Series on Global Indigeneity, Spring 2019

The purpose of this Lunch Series was to explore some of the many potential connections between World History and Indigenous Studies, two fields that both focus on the worlds that people make outside the framework of the nation-state. The first lunch featured WHC faculty and invited guests participating in a roundtable discussion to frame conceptual questions. This was followed by three sessions hosted by scholars in the field presenting their work (full schedule below). 

Lunch Series Schedule (all times were 12:00 to 1:00 PM)

Tuesday, February 12th – Global Indigeneity Series Kick-Off
Tuesday, February 19th – Noah Theriault from Carnegie Mellon University
Tuesday, March 19th – Bina Sengar from Florida International University
Tuesday, March 26th – Alaina Roberts from the University of Pittsburgh

Islam in the World Speaker Series, 2018-2019

The Early Modern Worlds Initiative and the World History Center presented a year-long speaker series titled "Islam in the World".  Four speakers joined us on campus (one in the fall and three in the spring), each of whom gave a talk and chaired an informal brown bag session on "perspectives on the field" during their visit.  The full schedule for the series is listed below. 

Thursday, October 11th, 2018

"Dragomans and the Routes of Orientalism" - Natalie Rothman, University of Toronto

12:00-1:00pm - Lunch discussion on digital methods
4:30-6:00pm - Lecture

Monday, February 4th and 5th, 2019

"Shaykh Musa Kamara and the Genealogy of an African Islamic Modernity" - Wendell Marsh, Rutgers University

Feb 4 - 4:30-6:00pm - Lecture
Feb 5 - 12:00-1:00pm - *Lunch discussion on the state of the field

Monday, March 4th and 5th, 2019

"Safavid Iran and the Christian Missionary Experience: Between Tolerance and Refutation" - Rudi Matthee, University of Delaware

Mar 4 - 4:30-6:00pm - Lecture
Mar 5 - 12:00-1:00pm - *Lunch discussion on the state of the field

Monday, April 1st and 2nd, 2019

"Idols, Commodities, and Islam" - Faisal Devji, University of Oxford

Apr 1 - 4:30-6:00pm - Lecture
Apr 2 - 12:00-1:00pm - *Lunch discussion on the state of the field