Weatherhead Research Cluster on Global Transformations (WIGH)

Seminar participants sitting at tables under a white tent outside on the lawn at 61 Kirkland Street

Over the last two years, WIGH has focused on maintaining and even building our strong community both at Harvard and around the world. We are part of an international network of global history programs designed to make global history a collaborative endeavor. Pivoting to Zoom seminars meant more opportunities for casual interaction with our partners in Brazil, Senegal, the Netherlands, China, and India (as opposed to previous in-person meetings at conferences involving complicated and expensive travel). In 2020, the Global History Network collaboratively launched a new seminar series, Global History, Globally, where faculty and graduate students presented and commented on papers. Despite major time differences, we had enthusiastic audiences gather to discuss topics from the current crisis in the global labor movement to the global history of animals.

Rebuilding our Harvard community is perhaps more challenging. After a fully remote year, we are thrilled to have four fellows on campus in 2021–2022. Jaewoong Jeon (University of Chicago) brings his background in anthropology and economics to the history of capitalism in Korea and Taiwan; Lori De Lucia (UCLA) focuses on the slave trade networks connecting Italy and West Africa in the early modern period; Yang Yang (East China Normal University, China) researches slave labor and the unequal trade between British cotton goods and American raw cotton; and Alexander Geelen (International Institute of Social History, the Netherlands) studies the regulation of mobility in eighteenth-century Dutch colonies.  

Our first fall seminar meetings took place outdoors under the tent at 61 Kirkland Street, where discussions of global history texts competed with passing trucks, mosquitoes, and a toddler day care group that regularly had their afternoon playtime nearby. The thrill of being together quickly outweighed all inconvenience, however, and we are looking forward to a year of strengthening old relationships and building new ones. 


Participants of “Approaches to Global History,” a course affiliated with the WIGH Global History Seminar, meet under the WCFIA tent on Kirkland Street on September 27, 2021. Credit: Jessica Barnard