Weatherhead Research Cluster on Global Transformations (WIGH)

Image of keynote speaker at soccer conference in June 2018

Since 2012, the Weatherhead Initiative on Global History (WIGH), which functions within the WCFIA as the Weatherhead Research Cluster on Global Transformations, provides the Center with a scholarly and teaching nucleus that is attuned to innovative trends in interdisciplinary and transnational historical scholarship. Its continuing seminars bring together graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in a biweekly seminar led by Sven Beckert, Sugata Bose, and Charles Maier. Jean Comaroff’s participation as a codirector assures openness to multidisciplinarity and attention to the Global South. Looking outward, WIGH has played a key role in creating the world’s first network of institutions dedicated to the study of global history. With partners in Dakar, São Paulo, Amsterdam, Shanghai, and Delhi, WIGH has built a vibrant community stretching across five continents, exchanging PhD students and scholars, as well as organizing an annual conference on key themes in global history.

Members of WIGH helped organize and participate in three major conferences over the past year: “Empires: Toward a Global History,” hosted by University of Delhi in December 2017, and two conferences on the global reach of soccer: one in Athens in September 2017 and the second in Cambridge in May 2018. The latter featured the participation of notable world-class players as well as a scrimmage between our historians and the pros! A particularly notable feature of these conferences was that the calls for papers attracted about 150 proposals for the approximately fifteen that could ultimately be accepted. Likewise, an abundance of proposals for limited spots holds true for the upcoming meeting on colonial cities to be hosted by the Cheikh Anta Diop University of Dakar in the colonial capital of Saint-Louis, Senegal, this coming December.

Image of presenters at India soccer conference in December 2017

During the upcoming year, WIGH will mark its seventh anniversary. The original directors look back on a rich record of seminars, conferences, and most importantly, a vital network of younger and older scholars—demonstrated most recently, for instance, by a conference in Dublin on global poverty organized by some early WIGH alumni. WIGH has shared a motivating vision of studying history as a record of global participation and agency across national and social boundaries; and the cluster remains committed to continuing this enterprise at a time so many contemporary political currents must find its premises unwelcome and threatening.


1. Keynote speaker Josep Maria Bartomeu, President of FC Barcelona, is introduced by conference coconvenor Stephen Ortega. Mr. Bartomeu gave a moving keynote on Barcelona’s commitment to inclusion at the “Participation, Inclusion, and Social Responsibility in Global Sports” conference held at Harvard on May 31–June 2, 2018. Photo credit: Rose Lincoln

2. Group photo of the presenters at the “Empires: Towards a Global History” conference held at the University of Delhi, India on December 3–5, 2017. Photo credit: T.C.A. Achintya