May
07
2019

IIAS Lunch Lecture

Eastern Eurasia before 'China'

Lunch lecture by IIAS fellow Naomi Standen from the University of Birmingham, UK.

Lunch is provided. Registration is required.

We are still working out how to do global history, especially for premodern periods. How do we achieve the necessary shift in scale without falling back on standard definitions of categories like states, ethnicity, religion, urbanisation? I have been exploring how global history can avoid reverting to familiar themes such as power, empires, money, wars and men. Useful techniques include thinking in layers rather than blocks, rejecting ethnocentricity, emphasising exchange over competition, avoiding narrative arcs, and not using words like ‘China’. My intention is to disrupt the reemergence in the new venue of global history of essentially national narratives. Meanwhile, some may worry that developing a ‘global Middle Ages’ risks becoming a neocolonial move: here I will suggest that by globalising our approaches to the premodern we may find alternatives to help us to recover the political initiative in the present day.

Naomi Standen is Professor of Medieval History at the University of Birmingham, the first non-Europeanist appointed to such a post in the UK. Her research started from a fascination with the ground-level functioning of borderlands, especially in the Liao (907-1125), and from there has expanded in both time and space. She works with texts, with archaeologists and with medievalists studying all parts of the globe. Publications include Unbounded loyalty: frontier crossings in Liao China (Hawai’i, 2007), and The Global Middle Ages (ed. with Catherine Holmes, the Past and Present supplement for 2018). She is writing a global history of eastern Eurasia between the 7th and the 14th centuries.

 

Registration (required)

If you would like to attend this lecture, please register via our web form below (by Friday, 3 May if you would IIAS to cater for your lunch).


About IIAS Lunch Lectures

Every month, one of the IIAS affiliated fellows gives an informal presentation about his/her work-in-progress. IIAS organises these lectures to provide the research community with an opportunity to freely discuss ongoing research and exchange thoughts and ideas. Anyone with an interest in the topic is welcome to attend and join the discussion.