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Focus Area on Global History

Approaching historical study from a global perspective and conducting research that crosses boundaries and disciplines promotes a synthetic understanding of the continuities and transformations that have shaped the development of human societies and cultures. Global history investigates the interactions and exchanges between human societies and incorporates numerous approaches — empires and colonization, the emergence of religions, philosophy, and science, migration and diaspora, slavery, peace and war, economic and technological change, popular culture and media, and ecological and environmental shifts — that can neither be captured nor comprehended within the national borders that have traditionally defined advanced historical study. Global history also embraces multiple temporalities, whether studying one particular moment or the entirety of human history.

The University of Memphis’s global history program features a strong base of faculty working in different eras and areas, from ancient Egypt to 21st-century Europe, and representing diverse theoretical and methodological perspectives. Our department’s particular strengths in global history include women, gender, and sexuality; military and diplomatic history; migrations, diasporas, and slavery; economics and global trade; the history of ideas, including the history of religion and the history of medicine; environmental history; and the study of space and place.

Catherine Phipps specializes in the history of Japan and the development of its transnational networks in the modern era. Her research and teaching interests include the Japanese empire in Asia, port cities, regional economies, comparative imperialism, and historical geography. As many environmental issues are inherently global, Yan Gao’s work on climate change, geological transformation, disease transmission, natural resource management, and the rise of ecological and environmental ideas explore human-nature interactions within the larger processes of social and economic transformation, creating an ecological niche in the field of global history. Dennis Laumann, a specialist in West African history, teaches courses that examine African history within a global context and writes on imperialism, colonialism, and Marxism. Robert Yelle’s research covers the history of religion, with special emphasis on Hinduism, British Protestantism, and theories of secularization. Beverly Tsacoyianis teaches Modern Middle Eastern History, and fits her regional expertise into the global history focus area through her teaching and research in migration, diaspora, and conflict as well as the cross-cultural transmission of medical, scientific, technological, and religious practices. Andrei Znamenski’s work focuses on Russia, the indigenous peoples of Siberia/Alaska and Mongolia, and their religions; he offers a cross-cultural comparative perspective that integrates the history and anthropology of Europe, indigenous Northern Asia, and indigenous North America. Guiomar Dueñas-Vargas's work explores issues of colonization, state formation, Latin America and the international division of labor, the Cold War, the slave trade and black societies, eugenics, international migration, and transnational feminism and women’s movements. Courtney Luckhardt's research and teaching focuses on medieval cultural and religious history, particularly in Late Antiquity and the early Middle Ages, looking at medieval travel, communication, and connectivity, Mediterranean Studies, and cross-cultural exchange. Andrew Daily works in the areas of French history, the Caribbean, and colonial, imperial, and postcolonial history, with a particular emphasis on the shared cultural and intellectual history of Europe and its empires. Scott Marler teaches the history of the Atlantic World, c. 1440-1888, with a strong emphasis on slavery, as well as the global history of capitalism. Susan O’Donovan works in the area of slavery and emancipation, fields of study that have long defied national as well as disciplinary boundaries. Her current research reveals the transnational lives of enslaved Americans and she offers courses that explore the transatlantic slave trade, women in Atlantic slavery, and emancipation as a historical and global problem.