SEMINAR: ‘Boundaries and Interfaces’, introduced by Peter Hill, Andrew Edwards and Juan Neves

Tuesdays, 5.15-6.45pm


15 October: ‘Structure and Culture’, introduced by Chihab El Khachab (anthropology, Oxford)

29 October: ‘Boundaries and Interfaces’, introduced by Peter Hill, Andrew Edwards and Juan Neves

19 November: ‘Africa and Global History’, speaker tbc

3 December: ‘Law, Labor, and Social Relations in the British Atlantic World’, introduced by Sonia Tycko (history, Oxford)


The project stems from earlier initiatives that started in 2017 as a way to bring together graduate students, early-career researchers and senior scholars from different disciplinary backgrounds to pose questions about the relations between economic and political systems on the one hand, and intellectual traditions and cultural practices on the other - within a comparative framework ranging widely across different geographical areas. 

The 2019-20 series is a joint initiative between Oxford's Global History of Capitalism Project and Northumbria University (Newcastle upon Tyne) and two workshops at Northumbria are being planned as a follow up later on this year. During the last academic year, 2018-19, the project had the support of Christ Church College (Oxford) and counted with the participation of colleagues and speakers from Oxford, Warwick, Cambridge, London, Bristol, Leeds and Birmingham. Currently, we are supported by Brasenose College (Oxford), the Global History of Capitalism Project (Oxford), the Institute of Humanities (Northumbria), and the Past and Present Society.

Email if you wish to be on the mailing list to receive the readings. We look forward to seeing many of you this term!

Convenors: Juan Neves (Oxford), Andrew Edwards (Oxford), Peter Hill (Northumbria)


An extended version of the following introductory abstract and previous reading lists are available at

‘This overall agenda aims to address the disconnect between much of the ‘global history’ that has come to prominence from the 1990s to the present, and an earlier wave of attempts to grasp global interconnections from the perspective of political economy. An important strand of the recent ‘global history’ focusses on intellectual-cultural interconnections and economic exchanges; another strand is comparative, and generally takes political formations (notably, empires) as its units of comparison. These strands often seem oddly unengaged with earlier debates which addressed many of the same problems. This earlier wave, which had its heyday from the 1960s to the 1980s, put forward paradigms that encompassed both interconnection and division, structured by power-relations on a large scale – it proposed theories of world-systems, dependency, and modes of production, some of which have been revisited more recently under the rubric of ‘new histories of capitalism’. I propose to ask whether problems raised by the newer global history can be addressed by drawing on perspectives associated with this earlier, more ‘materialist’ wave, and whether further questions raised by this earlier wave are still relevant to global history? Can the diffusion of ideas and cultural practices from one location to another, for instance, be understood in terms of comparable or connected socio-economic conditions? Are comparisons between political units such as empires illuminated by juxtaposing them with comparisons of economic zones dominated by distinct modes of production? How should we determine the appropriate scale of analysis for a given historical phenomenon: in terms of cultural zones, political-economic systems, or other units?’