Our Sawyer Seminar, “Beyond Medieval and Modern: Rethinking Global Paradigms of Political Economy and Culture,” was a wonderfully generative collaborative experience. As one participant put it, “The Mellon Sawyer Seminar in conjunction with WSIP was one of the most rewarding experiences of my intellectual life”; another described it as “one of the most inspiring scholarly meetings I have ever attended.” There’s more to come as we work on future conferences and an expanded website. We thank the Mellon Foundation and the University of Massachusetts-Amherst for their invaluable support of our effort to build an interdisciplinary, decolonial world studies. Click here for more information on the Sawyer Seminars and satellite events. You can also see interviews with Sawyer scholars here.
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, capitalism, and culture.
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. Organized collectively by faculty in the Humanities and Social Sciences at UMass-Amherst, our events support collaborative thinking about new paradigms, methods, data, pedagogy, and concepts in interdisciplinary global and longue durée studies. With an eye to both teaching and research, our website hosts a syllabus exchange and an index of related events in this emerging field.
As part of our effort to highlight and engage with recent work in world history, in Fall 2012 WSIP members hosted a seminar-conference on “Empires, Economy, and Culture before and after 1500: Implications for Global and Postcolonial Studies,” followed in Fall 2013 by a series of linked panels at the Rethinking Marxism conference (which is held tri-annually at UMass-Amherst). Members have organized panels at a range of conferences including the Modern Language Association (MLA) and the European Network in Universal and Global History (ENIUGH). WSIP events at UMass-Amherst have been supported or funded by the UMass-Amherst Interdisciplinary Institute (ISI), the offices of the Graduate School and the Vice Chancellor for Research and Engagement, and the deans and several departments of HFA and SBS.
We welcome inquiries about the WSIP initiative from scholars and prospective graduate students. Humanities scholars should contact Professor Laura Doyle in the English Department (email@example.com) and Social Science scholars should contact Professor Mwangi wa Gῖthῖnji in the Economics Department (firstname.lastname@example.org).