Global Interactions of Civilizations and Languages offers an intellectual platform for the interdisciplinary engagement with the effects of global interconnectivity, while leaving room for reflection on interconnectivity’s building blocks in themselves. A central idea that unites research within this initiative is a shift away from a classical Weberian approach that views historical development (and modernization) as emanating from Europe and ‘the West’, to a truly global approach allowing for multiple perspectives in a multipolar world. Leiden’s internationally renowned strength in area studies within the humanities, archaeology and anthropology provides a strong basis for building on and developing new modes of scholarly collaboration that take this shift seriously, not only in theory but also in practice.
The Global Interactions platform therefore seeks to promote, facilitate and organize ongoing and new collaborative research that critically engages with issues of migration and citizenship, heritage and material culture, classification, inclusion and exclusion, innovation, hybridity, translation, inequality and conflict in global contexts. The current, high-intensity phase of globalization shows an urgent need for understanding shifts in the global balance of geopolitical, economic, social, cultural, and ecological relationships, and the unequal distribution of their effects throughout the world. Comparison in time and space helps to understand current developments, and to critically question and qualify assumptions that often underwrite public discourse and opinion and promote Eurocentric or xenophobic viewpoints: e.g., Islam as a monolithic, militant threat to human development; or diversity and migration as endangering stable and secure societies; or universalist values as neutral and apolitical discourse for framing world heritage policies and practice. Moreover, studies of historical and ancient interactions can substantively contribute to more nuanced and decentered understandings of global configurations that may challenge certain entrenched Western-centric views.
A main focus of this research profile concerns the critical and comparative study of various interfaces of mobility and culture in historical and contemporary global contexts. The themes of mobility (migration) and culture (heritage), broadly conceived, form two articulated entry points into the study of global interactions. On the one hand, migration studies underscore the dynamic and disparate notions of culture that emerge from specific networks, agents and vectors of mobility - from urbanization to natural disasters, from people to objects. What are the effects of migration (of people, objects, languages and ideas) on concepts of culture and heritage in specific scenarios, and how do these ideas come to transform societies and identities? Under what conditions does migration and diversity become the enemy/instigator of social stability/innovation? On the other hand, the mobility and interaction of ‘cultures’ (as people, practices, objects and ideas) has contributed to specific historical notions of the local and global. How have these and related notions (e.g., autocthon, indigenous, transnational, cosmopolitan, etc.) changed or differed over time, space and context? How do such historical and non-western perspectives contribute to or transform critical understandings of European and world history, modernity and globalization?
Leiden Global Interactions seeks to support, build upon and establish cross-disciplinary research groups that investigate these kinds of questions. For further information about these groups please check back soon!