Global Imaginaries through the Ages

This reading group is a collective endeavour to investigate, interpret, and discuss imaginaries of the global in different sites and especially in different times. We will chronologically go through eight periods of human history, from the 'first societies' of the 'Neolithic agricultural revolution' to the 'Classics', 'Middle Ages,' and 'Modernity'.

The question in focus will be how collectives and individuals in these respective periods of history have conceived themselves in, and in relation to, the world. What was their imaginary of the global? When – if ever – have subjects started to conceive of themselves as global, or part of a global? We will discuss how useful it is to speak of a global imaginary and the extent to which this concept must be tied to a specific temporality. Furthermore, we will reflect on our own outlooks to the world and try to historicise our respective understanding(s) of globality, both as a mode of subjectification and as a historical tool: how can we study historical subjects in their relation to and understanding of 'the global' without projecting our geographical and temporal understandings of globality onto the material? In order to stimulate these discussions, the reading group will draw on a range of texts that not only span millennia but also focus on different aspects of 'globality', both material and ideational: agricultural labour, knowledge production, migration, empire, trade, and the diffusion of ideologies and worldviews.

This reading group is convened by Felix Anderl. If you have any queries about the events or reading, please don't hesitate to email.

Prehistory: Agriculture and the Societal Imaginary – 28 October

Mobile Knowledges before the Classics – 11 November

*Cancelled due to Strike* – 25 November

Global Classics? – 9 December


Image: al-Idrisi world map in Arabic from 'Alî ibn Hasan al-Hûfî al-Qâsimî's 1456 copy, via Wikimedia Commons.