Former fellows from the John Carter Brown Library and faculty in English and American Civilization at Brown University began discussing a conference focused on the connections between Asia and the Americas in 2007. Their proposal immediately engaged the interests of Brown scholars in American Studies, History, and the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America (CSREA). After extensive planning and financial support from the CSREA, the Pembroke Center, and the departments, we have organized six symposia series held on Brown campus at the John Carter Brown Library and the John Nicolas Brown Center for Public Humanities. We held three symposia in 2010-11, one in 2012-13, and two in 2013-14.
The symposia series has brought together over 40 speakers from the United States, Europe, Latin America, and Asia to discuss the relationships between Asia and the Americas as well as theories of global history. Regional scholars working in the field of global history have been invited to participate. Open to the greater Brown community and to scholars in the Northeast, our keynote lectures and paper panels provide an occasion where interested Brown faculty and students—graduate and undergraduate—can engage in dialogue with experts in this area of critical importance across the many disciplines that intersect with global history.
We consider this a transitional moment for the study of the Americas. Traditional histories of the West and East were generally narrated in isolation from one another. To some degree, histories of the Americas are still based largely on models that take for granted the centrality of both the nation-state and the Atlantic world. Growing numbers of scholars in an array of disciplines, however, are probing the connections—economic, material, intellectual, and imaginary—that were forged between the Eastern and Western hemispheres during the European "Age of Exploration," the colonization of the Americas, and the "Industrial Revolution."
This symposia series focuses attention on circuits of objects, peoples, and ideas. We investigate how these circuits created new relational spaces and how they prompt contemporary scholarship to narrate more interculturally connected histories that complement, and sometimes challenge, nationally bounded narratives. These global history symposia invite redefinition of national identities and engender new interdisciplinary perspectives on the exchange networks that have bound together distant geographic areas.
--The Organizing Committee