Here’s a selection of recent and ongoing initiatives and virtual spaces to keep in (social-distanced) contact with current researches and what’s going on in the scholarly community.
PiMo-Globhis, Visual grammars of globalization, virtual seminar: coordinated by Giovanni Tarantino, this seminar was held the 6th of May (I will post an update should a recording be made available). This seminar showcased a series of fascinating early-modern case studies as regards visual and material cultures and globalization processes, tackled through the theoretical lens of Gerd Baumann ‘grammars of identity/alterity’.
Speakers and topics included: Lisa Beaven on Giovanni Baratta’s Gli Schiavi Liberati, a sculptural group that decorates the church of San Ferdinando, in Livorno; José María Pérez Fernández on Samuel Purchas’ Hakluytus Posthumus (1625); Carlo Taviani on “Exchanges of Luxury Goods in Africa, the New World, Genoa and the Court of Mantua”; Angelo Cattaneo on Japanese ‘World Map’ folding screens and the case of the Kanshin-ji Byōbu – an apt example, with its multiple sources, of cross-cultural fertilisation; Paola von Wyss-Giacosa on 17th-century ‘idolatria illustrata’, in which images of gods from ancient Egypt were juxtaposed with “idols” from Asia and Europe and, more broadly, on the implications and consequences of the antiquarian method and its different figurative practices; Beatrice Falcucci on the adventurous story of Omar Al Mukthar’s glasses from Lybia to Rome.
Given the proximity to my own research interests, I jotted down quite a few notes during Pérez Fernández’ presentation, which dwelled on the visual codification of a world picture in Purchas’ title page, and compared it to other, inherently verbal examples, including 16th-century grammars and lexicons belonging to Iberian traditions. Pérez Fernández effectively exploited the idea of ‘knowledge engineering’ to describe how Purchas’ editing work put forward a visual and linguistic appropriation of the globe, via selecting, translating, juxtaposing materials from different sources.
Eccles Centre-British Library, Eccles Coffee Morning. This virtual meeting was held the 5th of May and was an informal and pleasant way of getting together with the British Library’s Americas curatorial team to chat, and ask them questions about the collections, while waiting for the library to be open again. Team members were extremely available in giving tips and insights about maps, newspapers, archival holdings and programmes, online tools and materials. I hope there will be other similar (virtual and on-site!) occasions soon.
Among other things, for holders of BL Reader’s Ticket, there is a good deal of resources that can be used remotely, listed here: https://www.bl.uk/help/about-remote-eresources.
The American Collections’ blog features highlights on items from and thematic surveys of the collections, written by the Americas and Australasian Collections curatorial team, with guest contributions from their colleagues at the Eccles Centre for American studies, and from other researchers, students, writers, and academics: https://blogs.bl.uk/americas/index.html.
The blog is part of the – extremely rich – British Library range of online initiatives, which includes also a wealth of digitalised materials as part of the Online Gallery: http://www.bl.uk/onlinegallery/publicgalleries.html, and Digital Collections: https://www.bl.uk/catalogues-and-collections/digital-collections.
PiMO-Cromohs, Contagion: A Podcast Series on Circulation and Pandemic Threats Throughout History, https://oajournals.fupress.net/index.php/cromohs/contagion: the series features scholars exploring the economic, social, political, and cultural dimensions of pandemics, seen as an integral part of global history. To paraphrase the official presentation, the circulation of viruses takes place via the circulation of living beings, and its history is therefore connected to the history of trades, migrations, travels and explorations, as well as to the history of science. Epidemics might happen as result of wars, and illness and contagion mobilitate political, social, cultural responses at a multiplicity of levels.
Available episodes include: David Do Paço on the history of lazarets; Ann Thomson on 18th-century European views of the Ottomans and the plague; Romain Fathi on disposing of corpses during World War I.
Jeffery C. J. Chen and Chase Caldwell Smith, The Global History Podcast: exploring cross-cultural encounters in the early modern world, https://theglobalhistorypodcast.com: focusing on c. 1500 – c. 1800, this podcast features a series of well-crafted interviews to scholars working on global history themes and methodological questions, including networks and movements of people, trade, ideas in the early-modern world, and sources and historiographical strategies that might be used to study and writing about a global past.
Chen and Smith put together very interesting 45-minutes-or-so episodes, by dwelling on fascinating case studies with their guests, and by asking well-researched questions, not leaving aside uncomfortable ones, e.g. about the politics, potential asymmetries, and relevance in teaching and outreaching of global-history approaches.
The series includes, up to today, episodes with Alan Strathern on religious encounters and the relationship between religion and political authority across the pre-modern world; Sebastian Conrad on approaches to and recent debates on global history; Barbara E. Mundy on colonial Mexico, indigenous sources, and hybrid maps; Bronwen Everill on West Africa, abolition and empire; and Suit Sivasundaram on islands and indigenous source materials in global history.
On the series’ website, scroll down each interview’s page to find reproductions of and links to visual and other materials discussed in the episode.
This blog is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) license