Recent scholarship in world history has drawn renewed attention to the ancient and medieval periods. Many scholars now argue that modern economic world-systems built directly on the foundations of earlier world-systems and that later empires expanded the technologies, translation projects, and uneven core-periphery formations of ancient and especially medieval states and empires. Their research has begun to rewrite long-standing histories of modernity.
The World Studies Interdisciplinary Project aims to activate a focused dialogue about these materials and thereby to foster cutting-edge interdisciplinary work in global and postcolonial studies, with a strong historical focus. The project is generously funded by the UMass-Amherst Interdisciplinary Institute (IS), the offices of the Graduate School and the Vice Chancellor for Research and Engagement, the Colleges of HFA and SBS, Five Colleges, Inc., the Five College African Studies Council, the Smith College Global Studies Center, the UMass Translation Center, and several departments at UMass-Amherst, Smith College, and Mt. Holyoke College. Working together with these partners, the University is building a linked research network and an on-campus research hub in interdisciplinary World Studies. Conferences, publications, graduate and undergraduate courses, visiting scholar residencies, and Five College faculty/graduate student research groups comprise the intellectual infrastructure for this initiative.
To launch the WSIP initiative, UMass-Amherst hosted the WSIP Seminar-Conference, “Empires, Economy, and Culture before and after 1500: Implications for Global and Postcolonial Studies” (September 20-23, 2012). Nearly 30 scholars from the U.S. and elsewhere working in the fields of History, Economics, Literature and Cultural Studies, Political Science, Anthropology, and Area Studies read target essays and wrote short papers in advance of the conference; at the conference they participated in public panels as well as in a three-day seminar organized around the short papers. The conference was the first in what will be a series of events intended to create ongoing discussion of world studies in these disciplines and to promote interdisciplinary development of the field in both research and curricula at UMass-Amherst and the Five Colleges.
We welcome inquiries about the WSIP initiative from scholars and prospective graduate students. Please contact Professor Laura Doyle (email@example.com) or Ruth Lahti (firstname.lastname@example.org).