Ahmanson-Getty Postdoctoral Resident 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 year 2006-07: Imperial Models in the Early Modern World

Directed by Anthony Pagden, History and Political Science, UCLA, and Sanjay Subrahmanyam, History, UCLA

Empires have been the focus of ever-increasing intellectual interest in the past few years, and the reasons for this are not far to seek. Our own participation in a number of discussions on this theme, most of which have centered on quite recent experiences, have usually led to the inevitable question of a future American imperial destiny or its absence. The purpose of our core program is to turn our attention away from the crystal ball and instead focus centrally on the empires of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, while looking both to their antecedents and their legacies. Three issues seem to be central for our purposes, and we shall address each of them over the course of the year, in the hope of allowing a conversation to emerge between scholars of different parts of the world (and more particularly Europe, America and Asia) who work on the period between the 1600 and 1800. The three issues that we shall consider are as follows:

1. The 'synchronic' problem, namely how to reconcile the very different trajectories followed by societies in Asia and America, in the face of empire-building projects. Here our interest is not merely in comparisons but in complex connections. We understand the early modern period to be an epoch of inter-imperial political struggles on a global scale, but also of imitation and symbolic competition.

2. The 'diachronic' problem, namely the conceptual relationship between the empires of the early modern period, and those of both the earlier and the later periods. The first part of this concerns the classical legacy, as it was read and understood by the empires of the early modern period. The Spaniards looked to Rome, the Portuguese episodically to the Phoenicians, the Mughals and the Safavids to the Sassanians, and the Ming and Ching to the great Chinese empires of the classical era.

3. The second part of our diachronic reflection will include the relationship between the Iberian and other early modern empires and those of France and Great Britain, as also the problem of the complex passage from empires to nation-states, and the consequent reflection on the 'modernity' or 'archaism' of empires themselves as a political form.

Our own interests range broadly, from the Habsburgs and the Mughals, to the Ottomans, the Safavids, the Portuguese, the Dutch, and the British. However, we welcome reflections on other cases – whether in China or Africa – where we have no direct expertise. Our hope is to be able to produce at least one substantial volume of reflections from the papers that will be presented in the workshops and other meetings held this year.

Scholars who have received a Ph.D. in the last six years and are engaged in research pertaining to the announced theme are eligible to apply. Fellows are expected to make a substantive contribution to the Center's workshops and seminars. Awards are for one full academic year in residence at the Clark.

Stipend: $27,600 for the academic year.

Published: Friday, August 19, 2005