Reading Group on Explorations, Encounters, and the Circulation of Knowledge

Description: The circulation of knowledge, objects, and people has attracted scholarly attention in recent years from a variety of disciplines.  This reading group investigates this scholarship to examine how knowledge was shaped by long-distance voyages and encounters in the global seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.  We welcome participants from any discipline interested in this early modern phenomenon, and are particularly interested in the possibilities of transcultural analyses that explore how knowledge and culture were transformed by the entanglements of voyagers and locals, in Europe and beyond.  This reading group is being held in association with this year’s Core Program at the Clark Library in conjunction with the Center for 17th- and 18th-Century Studies.

Our first meeting is scheduled to take place on Thursday, November 13th at 4pm in the History of Science Seminar Room, 5288 Bunche Hall, UCLA Campus.  On that day we will be reading Greg Dening, The Death of William Gooch: A History’s Anthropology.  This work is available in library and online for purchase.

More information about the book is available here.

Light refreshments will be served at the meeting.
If you have any questions, or if you would like to be added to this reading group’s mailing list, don’t hesitate to contact Eric Otremba at<> for more information.

Eric Otremba, Elizabeth Montanez-Sanabria, and Matthew Goldmark, group organizers of the Reading Group on Explorations, Encounters, and the Circulation of Knowledge.

Posted in Events, News | Leave a comment

Explorations and Encounters: program and registration

The program for “Explorations and Encounters: New Directions” (Nov. 14-15) is now online, and registration is open:

Posted in Conferences, Events, News | Leave a comment

Explorations and Encounters: New Directions (Nov. 14-15)

core 14-1 poster 5 8.5 x11 _sml


Posted in Conferences, Events, News | Leave a comment

“This is Not a Book: Long Forms of Attention in the Digital Age”

The Material Cultures of the Book Working Group at UC Riverside presents:

 “This is Not a Book: Long Forms of Attention in the Digital Age”

Professor Alan Liu (UC Santa Barbara)

Tuesday June 3 2014 [NEW DATE]

11:00-12:30 in INTS 1113 at UC Riverside

A common response to an electronic book or other digital media is that, while it may be better or worse than a book, “this is not a book.”  But digital media has the uncanny effect of making us realize that physical books themselves were never truly books–if by “book” we mean a long form of attention designed for the permanent, standard, and authoritative communication of human thought or experience.  This talk outlines methods for discovering and tracking socially repeatable and valued “long forms of attention” whether in books or other constellations of materials, in the past or the digital present.  The talk concludes with a look at the RoSE (Research-oriented Social Environment) created by a team at the University of California, Santa Barbara, directed by Liu.

Alan Liu is Professor of English at UC Santa Barbara and a leading scholar in digital humanities. He is the author of The Laws of Cool: Knowledge Work and the Culture of Information (Chicago, 2004), Local Transcendence: Essays on Postmodern Historicism and the Database (Chicago, 2008), and Wordsworth: The Sense of History (Stanford, 1989). He has developed several significant digital humanities projects: the University of California multi-campus research group Transliteracies Project (2005-10), the NEH-funded RoSE (Research-oriented Social Environment), and the ground-breaking Voice of the Shuttle Humanities gateway.

Free and open to the public. Co-sponsored by the Critical Digital Humanities group. The Material Cultures of the Book Working Group is a graduate student-run Andrew W. Mellon Workshop in the Humanities in the Center for Ideas and Society at UC Riverside (

Posted in Events, News | Leave a comment

Collections in Flux: registration open

Registration now open for Collections in Flux: the Dynamic Spaces and Temporalities of Collecting, an interdisciplinary conference organized at the Clark Library by Adriana  Craciun (UC Riverside) and Mary Terrall (UCLA) in collaboration with the UC multicampus research group on “The Material Cultures of Knowledge.” Registration is free for UC students but required in advance:

Posted in Conferences, Events, News | Leave a comment

Authorship Across Literatures and Sciences: Traveling Symposium


Posted in Events, News | Leave a comment

UCLA PostDoc: Explorations, Encounters, and the Circulation of Knowledge

Ahmanson-Getty Postdoctoral Fellowships

This theme-based resident fellowship program, established with the support of the Ahmanson Foundation of Los Angeles and the J. Paul Getty Trust, is designed to encourage the participation of junior scholars in the Center’s yearlong core programs. The core program for the academic year 2014–2015 will be:

“Explorations, Encounters, and the Circulation of Knowledge, 1600-1830”

Directed by Adriana Craciun (UC Riverside) and Mary Terrall (UCLA).

The circulation of knowledge, objects, and people has attracted scholarly attention in recent years from a variety of disciplines.  The core program for 2014-15 will draw on several strands of this scholarship to examine how knowledge and culture were shaped by long-distance voyages and encounters in the global seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.  We are particularly interested in the possibilities of transcultural analyses that explore how knowledge and culture were transformed by the entanglements of voyagers and locals, in Europe and beyond. The program will bring together scholars of the history of science, art history, literature, anthropology, geography, maritime history, and material texts to discuss new approaches to these questions.

Session 1. Explorations and Encounters: New Directions

November 14-15, 2014

This conference considers the new directions emerging in studies of exploration and encounters from roughly 1600-1830[MT1] . Exploration history has been transformed in the last decades of the twentieth century by a welcome turn to postcolonial and feminist critiques of the grand narratives of discovery and progress that had characterized the field in the past. Increasingly in the twenty-first century, indigenous perspectives of such encounters are no longer presented as a counterhistory to that of mobile Europeans who initiated a “fatal impact” into a static, local culture. Instead, practices of indigenous people are often central to symmetrical approaches that consider ambiguities, uncertain outcomes, and contingencies in these encounters. This conference will bring together scholars conducting innovative work on how diverse voyages and voyagers, indigenous and European, mutually constituted (not without conflict) knowledge and aesthetic practices across cultural lines.

Session 2. Geographies of Inscription

Feb. 6-7, 2015

The “geography of the book” has gained prominence in recent years as the spatialized counterpart to the established field of the history of the book. This conference places inscriptions printed or handwritten on paper, bound or unbound, alongside inscriptions on skin, wood, stone, monuments, metal, instruments, structures, earth and other materials.  Collectively participants will consider how the geography of such inscriptions can contribute to current studies of 17th and 18th century empire, trade, exploration, cosmopolitan exchange, scientific collaboration, translation, and aesthetic collaboration. Through a geography of inscription we hope to illuminate new contact zones, including a transdisciplinary zone for creating innovative scholarship.  This will allow us to consider  how diverse agents, instruments, and materials of inscriptions in turn reveal new insights about writers, books, printers, publishers and their networks.  Can geographies of inscription help in the larger efforts to work outside the paradigms of empire and colonization, center/periphery, and national print culture, which do not always serve 17th and 18th century studies well? Do they suggest alternative networks for the circulations of goods, books, people, and objects in the 17th and 18th centuries?

Session 3. Commerce, Culture, and Natural Knowledge

May 15-16, 2015

Recent work on global trade  in the early modern world has examined the impact of commercial networks and the objects they exchanged on European knowledge of nature.  Commercial concerns shaped the collection and trade in artificial and natural curiosities (in the metropolis and in the field), the enslavement and transportation of people, as well as the transplantation of natural resources for exploitation in imperial sites. This conference will gather scholars working on commerce, science and material culture in the early modern world, with the specific goal of addressing issues raised by the circumstances of encounter and exchange, aiming to complicate this picture by developing some of the symmetries outlined above.

Full details and application information available on the Postdoc Fellowship pages of UCLA’s Center for 17th and 18th Century Studies:



 [MT1]Moved this into intro paragraph

Posted in CFP, News | Leave a comment

Collections in Flux

Collections in Flux: the dynamic spaces and temporalities of collecting

May 9-10, 2014

Organizers: Adriana  Craciun (UC Riverside) and Mary Terrall (UCLA)

Location: UCLA Clark Library

This interdisciplinary conference explores how collections shift their meanings and uses with motion through time and space, as well as how layers of meanings can inhabit a single collection in a specific time and place.  We hope to bring new light to bear on how spaces of display and representation mapped onto geographical and political spaces, and how concerns about permanence and stability shaded rapidly into dissolution and reorganization and, sometimes, re-use. As “Collections in Flux” will demonstrate, the activity of collecting becomes more than the expression of curiosity, the desire for order, or the policing of boundaries. Collections in flux, considered dynamically and globally, through the agency of Europeans and indigenous people, can become a forum for rethinking the relation of centers to peripheries, of alien and native, of exotic and mundane.

Keynote Speakers:

Miles Ogborn, Professor and Head of School of Geography, Queen Mary, University of London

Nicholas Thomas, Professor of Anthropology and Director, Cambridge Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Cambridge University

Conference Participants:

Malcolm Baker, UC Riverside

Adriana Craciun, UC Riverside

Lucia Dacome, University of Toronto

Alessa Johns, UC Davis

Stacy Kamehiro, UC Santa Cruz

Mi Gyung Kim, North Carolina State University

Stacey Sloboda, Southern Illinois University

Mary Terrall, UCLA

Conference details and registration information will be available on the webpages of the UCLA Center for 17th and 18th Century Studies and the Clark Library. This conference is organized in collaboration with the University of California Multi-campus Research Group on “The Material Cultures of Knowledge, 1500-1830.”

Posted in Conferences, Events | Leave a comment

The Social Logics of Global Archives

On May 7th I attended the first event of the new Global Archivalities Research Network. This was a virtual conference hosted over Adobe Connect, with a viewing location in the UC Riverside History Library. The group is organized by Dr. Randolph Head of University of California, Riverside, Dr. Arndt Brendecke of Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, and Dr. Hilde De Weerdt of Kings College London. The digital aspect of the conference allowed many other scholars from across the globe to join, which added greatly to the international scope and diversity of archives that were discussed.

Thanks to the steady hand of fellow UCR graduate student, Heather Van Mouwerik, the technological aspect of the conference went off without a hitch. Van Mouwerik spent many hours in the weeks preceding the conference ensuring that all technological details were considered. Most virtual workshops or conferences are a one-to-many format, meaning that one presenter maintains control of the video and audio, and audience participation is limited to textual responses. However, with presenters in California, Munich, Madrid, and London, there was a definite need for a more complex video conferencing arrangement.

There are many video conferencing services, but none of them fit the needs of this workshop exactly. Using Adobe Connect, Van Mouwerik was able to maintain control of bandwidth by manually promoting each speaker to the primary position, and demoting others to view-only status as needed. Also, Van Mouwerik made sure that the workshop could be digitally recorded. The video recording should be made available soon at, allowing participants to review the material, and other interested scholars to engage in the content after the fact.

The title for this event was “Global Archivalities: A Conceptual Workshop,” and the most contentious portion of the virtual conference was the usage of the term “archivalities” itself. The word archivalities is meant to convey a sense of process and movement through the study of various archives of all forms, and through all parts of the historical record. The grand scope and inclusiveness of the project is the major factor in calling for such a term, and archivalities is a difficult but perhaps necessary starting point. Even the notion of the archive itself carries a Western connotation (not to mention Weberian and Foucauldian notions of state bureaucracy and institutional power), and in other languages the use of archivality or the suffix “ality” could present confusion. Other similar terms have been showing up in academic circles lately, such as documentality and spectrality, so perhaps archivality could find a toehold, however tenuous it might be at the moment.

Throughout the conference many of the presenters were moving toward a common goal of reconsidering archives and archival practices throughout history. Archives are not necessarily a representation of state power, and collections of artifacts and documents are not always considered an archive at the time of their assembly. Dr. Diego Navarro Bonilla spoke of the need to consider “little” archives as well as the larger bureaucratic ones, and he also touched on the importance of archives as a place of both creation and destruction. In line with this notion of destruction, De Weerdt expressed that archives can also be considered as a process or strategy for coping with loss. Archived documents could themselves be destroyed, and in the wake of devastating events, such as a natural disaster or the death of an individual, archives could also be a form of collective memory.


Dr. Hilde De Weerdt presenting at the Global Archivalities Research Network virtual conference.

The inclusive nature of this research group allowed for scholars located across the world to participate, and it also provided for a wide range of historical reference. The archives discussed included collections of ninth century Japanese scrolls, the examination system in thirteenth century imperial China, the legal archives carried by judges in the Middle East prior to the year 1500, as well as early modern European archives. Such a broad range of archival material greatly enriched the discussion, adding a sense of wonder to the possibilities for comparative study.

Most interesting in the discussion was the idea put forth by Dr. Konrad Hirschler that each archive carries its own “social logic.” As historians we must be careful to not privilege materials that have been archived in the Western sense over non-traditional archives (such as a collection of Inca quipus), or even non-archived archives (such as a genizah). This notion of “social logic” means that we must consider how and why the collection of materials came to be, and the thought processes surrounding their assembly. The “social logics” of the archives are especially important, because there is no way to study all the archives across the globe. However, historians can compare the “social logics” of archives in a broader sense. If scholars can “consider the archive in a much more creative way,” as proposed by Hirschler, new social connections and new opportunities for research will emerge.

This event was sponsored by the University of California Multi-Campus Research Group “Material Cultures of Knowledge, 1500-1800,” funded by the University of California Humanities Network and the University of California Humanities Research Institute.

Cross-posted at:

Posted in Archives, Conferences | 3 Comments

“Global Archivalities” event available online

The transcript of the May 7th workshop, “Global Archivalities: A Conceptual Workshop,” is now available on line. It includes the video, audio, and chat from the entire workshop. You can also access it from the Events page on the website

“Global Archivalities” was organized by Professor Randolph Head and supported by the “Material Cultures of Knowledge” MRG. The next Global Archivalities event is planned for September in Munich, in connection with the major conference of the Arbeitsgruppe Frühe Neuzeit.

May 7 Participating Faculty:
Konrad Hirschler, SOAS London
Diego Navarro Bonilla, Universidad Carlos III Madrid
Bryan Lowe, Vanderbilt
Christian Speer, Universität Wittenberg
John-Paul Ghobrial, Balliol College Oxford
Natalie Rothman, University of Toronto
Markus Friedrich, Universität Frankfurt A.M, Max Planck Institut für Wissenschaftsgeschichte Berlin
Eric Ketelaar, Universiteit Amsterdam, Emeritus; Director Emeritus, National Archives of the Netherlands
Jacob Soll, USC
Hilde de Weerdt, University College, London
Arndt Brendecke, Universität München
Filippo de Vivo, Birkbeck College, London
Graduate Students:
Ron Makloff, Berkeley
Patrick O’Neill, UCR
Benjamin Esswein, UCR
Colin Whiting, UCR
Steven Anderson, UCR
Heather Van Mouwerik, UCR
Posted in News | Leave a comment