The Ph.D. Program in History

at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York


Call for papers: Bids for Autonomy in the Condition of Globality

Columbia University

13-14 April 2018


Call for papers

In the nineteenth century, globalization acquired a new intensity which has persisted until this

day. As the world became more integrated and interconnected, successive attempts were made

by states, peoples, social movements, religions, classes, corporations and regions to assert their

autonomy against real and prospective forms of domination, discipline and uniformity imposed

by exterior forces and actors. Resistance to globalization has not been an occasional irritant, but

a constant presence around the world for more than two centuries. When not challenged

outright, dissent has taken the forms of attempts to renegotiate the terms of global integration.

Yet the force of the global has consisted exactly in undermining the very possibility of fully

autonomous development for human collectivities everywhere.


This two-day conference will examine these bids for autonomy since the 1800s. It takes its

inspiration from the work of Michael Geyer and Charles Bright, who in a series of

groundbreaking essays since the late 1980s have advanced the idea of a ‘condition of globality’.

What Geyer and Bright’s research agenda articulates is how to understand the intensification of

processes of globalization, world-making and global ordering from the mid-nineteenth century

onward in their totality without reducing their concrete elements and components to discredited

deterministic master narratives such as Westernization, modernization, or homogenization.


How do we think and write world history in our current moment? How do we use the experience

of the last two centuries of globality to articulate a philosophy of history that possesses

intelligibility without teleology? The current historical conjuncture of 2007-2017—which is being

interpreted in various ways as a backlash against globalization, a global crisis of populism, the

breakdown of the post-WWII liberal international order, the end of the American Century—

poses this question with special force.


The conference invites scholars to contribute papers on specific bids for autonomy since 1800. Its

aim is both to test and to criticize the globality framework, as well as to thicken it and to clarify

some of its historiographical and philosophical implications. Papers can take the form of case

studies examining the efforts of particular groups to resist, navigate, or negotiate globality,

comparisons across societies or across time periods, or thematically-focused explorations of

important axes of globalization and their effects in particular parts of the world. These

globalizing themes include, but are not limited to:

* industrial and agricultural production between interdependence and self-sufficiency

* the national politics of international finance

* the domestic sources of state power in the international sphere

* ideological self-assertion and reproduction

* military thinking and independence in armaments and raw material supply

* state-society and civil-military relations

* bids for intellectual, cultural and religious autonomy

* race and its (re)articulation in processes of globalization


The organizers hope to solicit papers covering every region of the globe and a variety of time

periods over the last two centuries, and will gladly consider proposals from advanced graduate

students to senior scholars. The two-day conference will consist partly of panel discussions of precirculated papers, and partly of curated, seminar-style discussions of pre-circulated readings.


Applicants should send their paper abstracts (max. 400 words) and a short CV (1 page) to by October 1, 2017. Invited participants will be notified by



The conference organizers

Ted Fertik (History, Yale)

Nick Mulder (History, Columbia)

Adam Tooze (History, Columbia)

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