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From the AHA Activities column in the September 2001 Perspectives

Scholars Gather to Explore Empires

Debbie Ann Doyle, September 2001

Twenty community college teachers from around the country traveled to Washington, D.C., this July to participate in a four-week summer seminar entitled "Explorations in Empire." The seminar brought together a select group of community college faculty from across the United States to engage in curriculum development and conduct research on a variety of topics relating to imperialism and postcolonial developments in a global, comparative perspective. The AHA organized the seminar in conjunction with the Community College Humanities Association and the Library of Congress. A coalition of area studies associations and the George Washington University history department cosponsored the seminar, which was funded by the Ford Foundation.

The seminar offered participants the opportunity to draw upon the latest developments in world history using the resources of the nation's premier research library. Several participants pursued research projects that placed American expansionism in a global context. Others developed collections of teaching resources on the comparative history of slavery or anticolonialism in global perspective.

In addition to conducting independent research, participants met with noted scholars to discuss the history of colonialism and imperialism in various times and regions. The seminar featured presentations by seven major scholars: Ann Stoler on recent scholarly approaches to imperialism and colonialism, Stefan Tanaka on the Japanese empire, Dane Kennedy on colonial encounters in Africa and India, AHA president Wm. Roger Louis on the British Empire, Prasenjit Duara on postcolonial perspectives, David Morgan on premodern imperialism, and Margaret Strobel on gender issues in imperial and colonial contexts.

In the coming months, participants will present their research to faculty at their home institutions, publish their research in journals and at scholarly conferences, and incorporate what they have learned into their course curricula. Several participants will deliver papers at a special session at the 2002 annual meeting, sponsored by the Community College Humanities Association.

The Ford Foundation earlier extended its support to a similar seminar for community college teachers on the theme of "Globalizing Regional Studies," as well as a three-day research conference on "Interactions: Regional Studies, Global Processes, and Historical Analysis." The steering committee that directed the conference and the two summer institutes has formed a new Conference Group in Inter-area Studies designed to encourage further interdisciplinary research on interactions across national boundaries. A meeting to launch the new conference group will be held at the 2002 annual meeting under the auspices of the World History Association. For further information, contact Jerry Bentley (jbentley@hawaii.edu) or Renate Bridenthal (rbriden1@juno.com), co-chairs of the steering committee.

—Debbie Ann Doyle is coordinator of the AHA's Globalizing Regional Studies program. She is a PhD student in history at American University.