Conference report: ‘The Global 1860s’, 15-17 October 2015

Report: ‘The Global 1860s’ conference report
15-17 October 2015, Princeton

Earlier this month, John, Juergen and myself presented at the first of our partner conferences, ‘The Global 1860s’, at Princeton University. The conference tested the concept of ‘Global Moments’: short periods in which global historical trajectories crystallise, intersect, or transition. War, notably the great internal conflicts in China and the US in the 1850s and 1860s featured large, as did the politics of empires, monarchies, and nations and their interactions. Other papers ranged from the globalizing of notions of time, through the globalizing of finance, to the interactions of global and North African, Latin American, and Japanese histories. Linda Colley, the lead organizer of this conference, not only updated us on her current research on the 19th century globalisation of the conceptual language of politics but also laid down some challenges. Can we gender, socialize, and culture global history? We made some progress on this in a session on informal globalization, featuring Chinese labourers in the US, ‘crew culture’ and the gold rushes, and the cellular spread of Friendly Societies. But there is work to be done on this front, and we endorse the view that while global history must include politics and economics, it must also stretch well beyond them. Our thanks to Linda Colley and Matt Karp for co-organizing this conference.

James Belich (Conference Organiser/Principal Investigator), Claire Phillips (Network Facilitator)