The Royal Historical Society 2018 Symposium, 'The Future of History: Going Global in the University'

draft poster



NOTE: we are currently at full capacity for both days, please contact to be added to the waiting list.

The Royal Historical Society 2018 Symposium

'The Future of History: Going Global in the University'

22-23 June 2018 - Ashmolean Museum, Bodleian Library

The pedagogical boundaries that shape history university programmes reflect Western societies’ interest in the origins of modern culture and institutions, the characteristics of Western civilization, and relations between ‘the West and the rest.’ As a result, history departments are undergoing a transformation as they increasingly address the global turn and non-western histories alongside commitments to established themes and periodization.

In the 150th anniversary year of The Royal Historical Society, this symposium focuses on the nature of the ‘global turn’ in higher education, which has challenged the traditional framework of history research and teaching in universities.  Whether in reframing periodization, or in encouraging large collaborative research projects, this event brings together a range of scholars to discuss the practice of history in higher education now that history departments have been urged to go global.  Speakers will reflect on the methodological, chronological, and geographical frameworks used in the teaching and research of history at universities, and examine both the challenges and opportunities that global approaches offer to history in institutions of higher education.

Convenors:Erica Charters (OCGH, Oxford) and Mallica Kumbera-Landrus (Ashmolean Museum, Oxford)

Day 1 (Fri 22 June): Ashmolean Museum, 10.30am-5pm followed by Drinks Reception, 5.15pm

Day 2 (Sat 23 June): Weston Library, Bodleian Libraries, 10.30am-4.15pm

NOTE: tickets are available for Day 1 and Day 2.  Please ensure you book a ticket for each day of the event you wish to attend. Tickets are free.


Draft programme


Friday 22 June: Ashmolean Museum

10.00: Registration - Headley Lecture Theatre Lobby

10.30: Welcome, Erica Charters (Oxford) and Mallica Kumbera Landrus (Oxford)

10.45-11.45 Narratives

Patrick O’Brien (LSE/Oxford): Reflexions on a Protracted (1998-2018) Debate in Global History: The Great Divergence

Maxine Berg (Warwick): Why the world mattered to the Industrial Revolution

Rowena Olegario (Oxford): Global Histories of Capitalism: A Blueprint

Chair: Catherine Schenk (Oxford)

12.15-13.15 Resources

Isabel Holowaty (HFL/Bodleian, Oxford): The “Global History Shift” in Bodleian Libraries: On The Road to Implementation

Paul Betts (Oxford): When Socialism Went Global: Decolonization and the Expansion of Eastern Europe into Africa

Amanda Power (Oxford): How to teach the medieval planet

Chair: Karen O’Brien (Oxford)

13.15-14.30 Lunch

14.30-15.30 Spaces

Esther da Costa Meyer (Princeton): Re-scaling architectural history

Steffen Burkhardt (Hamburg): Remembering the Unimaginable. The History of the Holocaust and the Era of Digital Memories

Laura Van Broekhoven (Oxford): Change and the Pitt Rivers Museum

Chair: Xa Sturgis (Oxford)

16.00-17.00 Empires

Sam Nixon (UCL, Institute of Advanced Studies): Approaching ‘empires’ in the medieval trans-Saharan world

Pekka Hamalainen (Oxford): Rethinking empires: nodes, holes, and kinetics

John Darwin (Oxford): Globalizing Empire

Chair: Peter Stewart (Oxford)

17.15-19.00: Reception: Ashmolean Museum (Level 1)


Saturday 23 June: Weston Library

10.00: Registration - Blackwell Hall

10.30-11.30 Categories

Amy Stanley (Northwestern): Gender and narrative in global history, 1500-1850

Monica Juneja (Heidelberg): The languages of Global Art History – why concepts matter

Alan Strathern (Oxford): Globalizing Early Modern History

Chair: Jamie Belich (Oxford)

12.00-13.00 Structures

Richard Reid (SOAS): Time and Distance: reflections on local global history from East Africa

Patricia Clavin (Oxford): What is the place of the international in the study of global history

Faisal Devji (Oxford): The problem of expansion in global history

Chair: Julia Smith (Oxford)

13.00-13.45 Lunch

13.45-14.45 Nature

Sujit Sivasundaram (Cambridge): Making the Earth Globular: Historiographical Reflections from Pendulum Experiments Close to the Equator

Scott Ashley (Newcastle): The Places of Global History: A Common Landscape

Dagmar Schäfer (Max Planck): Hanging by a thread: How global are materials?

Chair: Rob Iliffe (Oxford)

15.10-16.10 Audiences

Wayne Modest (Tropenmuseum, Museum Volkenkunde and Africa Museum, Netherlands): On the Move: Museums in the age of de-colonial solidarity

Chaitanya Sambrani (ANU): Images beyond borders: transnational aspirations in Indian and Indonesian modernist art

Miles Larmer (Oxford): Oxford and the globalisation of ‘British’ history in British schools

Chair: Erica Charters (Oxford)



gandhara buddha

© Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford

About the images

The figure belongs to an artistic tradition that emerged in Gandhara, the modern regions of Pakistan and eastern Afghanistan. Intended for a monastic shrine, the sculpture is very finely carved in a typical grey stone (shist). The stylistic debt of Gandhara’s sculptors to earlier Greco-Roman images can be seen in the classical treatment of the Buddha’s head, ultimately based on that of Apollo, and the naturalistic, toga-like modelling of the folds of the monk’s robe. These follow the contours of the body and create strong rhythmical curves of alternating light and shadow. The ushnisha, or top-knot, protrudes from the Buddha’s hair, a reminder that he was of the warrior caste who wore their hair uncut and gathered under a turban. The Buddha’s head is set against a nimbus, a device of Middle Eastern origin, here alluding to his transcendent nature. In a temple context, this image would have been painted and gilded; tiny flecks of gold are still visible around the mouth and chin.