Followers of this blog and those interested in global history more broadly may be interested in an interview with Dr. Steven Serels, a scholar of African and Indian Ocean History that marks the first of several pieces I’ve done for the Toynbee Prize Foundation’s Global History Forum. In the interview, we spend a lot of time discussing Serels’ new book, Starvation and the State: Famine, Slavery, and Power in Sudan, 1883-1956, published late last year by Palgrave McMillan. But fittingly for the blog’s global history thrust, we also explore how Serels’ work necessarily touches on concerns central to global history: globalization, trans-regional studies, and state formation.
The feature on Serels’ work represents the inaugural contribution to the Global History Forum, one of the core activities of the Toynbee Prize foundation. The Forum is a sustained conversation among scholars about the state of global history today, conducted through essays, articles, and discussions of the newest research in the field. While scholars in many fields have adopted global approaches, these academics (for they are mostly professors) do not always see themselves as a field, and in the current job market the vast majority of positions are still advertised as national fields (even with a preference for a transnational or global approach).
The Global History Forum aims to strengthen the cross-national and cross-regional conversations among scholars who may be working on ostensibly different subjects in order to develop global history’s sense of itself as a field with its own concerns and questions. Rather than being intended at created a new walled garden of a discipline with its own vocabulary, however, the Forum aims to provide scholars from different fields with a place where they can pose questions they have encountered in their own research to other scholars working on similar problems in different contexts, emphasizing the creative linkages that a global history approach can foster.
More interviews with other scholars of global history are forthcoming, but if you would like to suggest someone whose work you think deserves the spotlight, do not hesitate to contact me.