Historians Launch Wide-Ranging Research

With funding from the Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society, four historians embark on ambitious research projects.

The Economy and its Boundaries

Amy Dru Stanley and Jonathan Levy in History join Elaine Hadley, English, and Kimberly Hoang, Sociology, to set the groundwork for a humanistic social science of economic life. They aim to create conversations between humanists and humanistic social scientists who use qualitative and interpretive methods and social scientists who employ quantitative and mathematical methods. Some of the questions they will pose include where, within different methodological and disciplinary approaches, can "the economy" be located? How and for what purposes can it be analyzed? How might various approaches inform one another?

The French Republic and the Plantation Economy: Saint-Domingue, 1794–1803

Paul Cheney in History will collaborate with Allan Potofsky, Université Paris Diderot and Neubauer Collegium Visting Fellow, to examine plantation economy in an era of ostensibly free labor. On February 4, 1794, the French republic became the first state to proclaim the universal abolition of slavery. By this act, slightly over a half of a million slaves in France's colony of Saint-Domingue, present-day Haiti, became free. Saint-Domingue, the largest producer of sugar and coffee in the West Indies, and hence the most economically valuable colony in the world, is a critical case study for posing questions about the evolution of labor regimes, labor-force demography and geography, and class structure and the evolution of new élites.

Imperial Interstices: Agents of Eurasian Interaction in Late Antiquity

Clifford Ando, joint member of Classics and History, Paul Copp, East Asian Languages and Civilizations, Whitney Cox, South Asian Languages and Civilizations, and Richard Payne, Near East Languages and Civilizations, will consider how political élites, merchants, and religious specialists stimulated political, economic, and cultural change across Eurasia in the first millennium CE.  In constrast to former scholarship, which regarded the interstices of premodern global empires as passive corridors, this research will emphasize the agency of interstitial societies and aims to foster the collaborative work needed to produce an integrated history of a Eurasian late antiquity.

Joanne M. Berens, MFA'93