University of Virginia, College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Asian Cosmopolitanisms

Asian Cosmopolitanisms

A new IHGC lab on Asian Cosmopolitanisms aiming to reconceptualize the study of Asia
across the disciplines of the humanities and interpretive social sciences.

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Achille Mbembe

Achille Mbembe Lecture

"Negative Messianism in the Age of Animism" | September 18, 2017


Burning the Library of Life: Species Extinction and the Humanities

A Symposium | September 26-27, 2019
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HistoREMIX Humanities Week | Feburary 23-28, 2020 

Puzzle Poetry

Puzzle Poesis

UVa's Puzzle Poetry working group was launched in the fall of 2017 by Neal Curtis and
Brad Pasanek as an experimental and collaborative endeavor. The group seeks to treat
poems as puzzles, isolate the substance of prosody, and apprehend shape as a medium. 
They are makers, coders, and subformalists. 

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Jane Taylor

IHGC Fall 2019 Distinguished Visitor 
October 4, 2019 | 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm | Bryan Hall Faculty Lounge
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Global Map

Global South Initiative

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded the University of Virginia $3.47 million to launch a major
humanities initiative dedicated to the study of the Global South. The College and Graduate School of Arts &
 has matched the grant, making the initial five-year investment to launch the initiative about $7 million.


Caroline Elkins

Pulitizer Prize Winner | Professor of History and African & African American Studies, Harvard University
"The 'Moral Effect' of Legalized Lawlessness in the British Empire"
Thursday, February 27, 2020  | Wilson Hall 142  | 4:00 - 5:30 p.m.

Institute of the Humanities & Global Cultures (IHGC)


The Institute of the Humanities & Global Cultures (IHGC) offers a vision at
once local and global, and a mission both academic and socially engaged. 



Humanities Informatics

Consortium of Humanities Centers & Institutes 2018 Annual Meeting | June 13-17, 2018
A conference on Humanities Informatics that showcased the power of the humanities
to address the urgent questions about the ‘human’ in our information age.



Amitav Ghosh

IHGC Writer-in-residence
Watch his lectures

News & Announcements

Thu Feb 27
4:00 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. | Wilson Hall 142
Caroline Elkins, "The ‘Moral Effect’ of Legalized Lawlessness in the British Empire" (convened by Erik Linstrum)

Caroline Elkins, "The ‘Moral Effect’ of Legalized Lawlessness in the British Empire" (convened by Erik Linstrum)

Thu Feb 27

Professor Elkins's first book,Caroline Elkins Imperial Reckoning: The Untold Story of Britain's Gulag in Kenya, was awarded the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction. It was also selected as one of the Economist's best history books for 2005, was a New York Times editor's choice, and was a finalist for the Lionel Gelber Award. She and her research were also the subjects of a 2002 BBC documentary titled, Kenya: White Terror, which was awarded the International Committee of the Red Cross Award at the Monte Carlos Film Festival. Professor Elkins is a contributor to The New York Times Book ReviewThe Atlantic, and The New Republic. She has also appeared on numerous radio and television programs including NPR's All Things Considered, BBC's The World, and PBS's Charlie Rose. Professor Elkins's current research interests include colonial violence and post-conflict reconciliation in Africa, and violence and the decline of the British Empire. She is currently working on two projects: one examining the effects of violence and amnesia on local communities and nation-building in post-independent Kenya; the other analyzing British counter-insurgency operations after the Second World War, with case studies including Palestine, Malaya, Kenya, Cyprus, and Nyasaland. Professor Elkins teaches courses on modern Africa, protest in East Africa, human rights in Africa, and British colonial violence in the 20th century.

Fri Feb 28
10:30 am - 12:00 pm | Wilson Hall 142
Aswin Punathambekar, "Sound Art and Escape Routes to New Public Spheres"

Aswin Punathambekar, "Sound Art and Escape Routes to New Public Spheres"

Fri Feb 28

Mon Mar 16
TBD | Wilson Hall 142
Sarah Nuttall, "Pluvial Time and the Novel Form"

Sarah Nuttall, "Pluvial Time and the Novel Form"

Mon Mar 16

Sarah Nuttall is Professor of Literary and Image result for sarah nuttall"Cultural Studies and Director of WiSER (Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research) in Johannesburg, South Africa. She is the author of Entanglement: Literary and Cultural Reflections on Postapartheid, editor of Beautiful/Ugly: African and Diaspora Aesthetics, and co-editor of many books including Negotiating the Past: The Making of Memory in South Africa; Senses of Culture; Johannesburg: The Elusive Metropolis and Loadshedding: Writing On and Over the Edge of South Africa. Recent essays include ‘Mandela’s Mortality’; ‘Secrecy’s Softwares’; ‘Surface, Depth and the Autobiographical Act’; ‘The Redistributed University’; and ‘The Earth as a Prison?’ She has given more than thirty keynote addresses around the world, and published more than sixty journal articles and book chapters. Her work is widely cited across many disciplines. She has taught at Yale and Duke Universities and in 2016 she was an Oppenheimer Fellow at the DuBois Institute at Harvard University. For seven years she has directed WiSER, the largest and most established Humanities Institute across the Global South.

Mon Mar 16
| Wilson Hall 142
Amitav Ghosh, Seminar & Workshop Series on "Indian Ocean and Climate Change"

Amitav Ghosh, Seminar & Workshop Series on "Indian Ocean and Climate Change"

Mon Mar 16

The Indian Ocean in the Anthropocene

Seminar conveners: Amitav Ghosh and Debjani Ganguly


March 18 (Wed), 27(Fri)

April 2 (Thurs), 10 (Fri)


Hosted by the IHGC and the Mellon Global South Lab


Time/Venue: 3.00-5.00pm, Wilson 142


As the impact of climate change intensifies, it is becoming increasingly clear that the Indian Ocean region, with its fast-accelerating economies, its innumerable oil and gas producers, its collapsing ecosystems, its vulnerable yet rapidly-increasing populations, and its swiftly-expanding carbon footprint, will be the theatre in which the future of the world will be decided. How will the ongoing changes affect the material and cultural lives of the region’s peoples, who are simultaneously drivers and victims of climate change? Many of the world’s major zones of conflict are already clustered around the Indian Ocean, and the region is also the theater of many accelerating arms races. How will these developments affect the global balance of power? What lessons might past climatic shifts offer for the future? These are some of the issues that will be discussed over the four two-hour sessions of this seminar. 


March 18: Indian Ocean Worlds and the Anthropocene  

March 27: The Little Ice Age in Tokugawa Japan and Mughal India: Early Modern Perspectives

April 2: The Arts of Living in a Precarious Age

April 10: Environmental Crisis and Security in the Indian Ocean


Visiting scholars Sunil Amrith (Harvard), Julia Adeney Thomas (Notre Dame) and Anand Pandian (Johns Hopkins) will participate in some of the sessions.


Approximately 3-4 readings will be assigned per session. The seminar will be capped at 25 participants, and readings will be circulated by the end of February to selected participants.  Please register here if you are interested. The call closes on February 24, 2020.

Mon Mar 16
TBD | Wilson Hall 142
Deborah Baker, Seminar & Workshop on "Narrative in the Age of Political Extremism"

Deborah Baker, Seminar & Workshop on "Narrative in the Age of Political Extremism"

Mon Mar 16

Spring Seminar with IHGC Distinguished Writer-in-Residence, Deborah Baker

 “Narrative in the Age of Political Extremism”


March 16 (Mon), March 23 (Mon),

March 30 (Mon) and April 6 (Mon)


Time: 3.00-5.00pm

Venue: Wilson 142

(except for March 16 - Wilson 117)


We are living in a time of rising extremism and increasing polarization around the world.  This trend has been accompanied by acts of millenarian terror, generally committed by men who believe themselves and their identities and beliefs to be facing an existential threat.  What narrative strategies can be used to dramatize the conflict between those who want to destroy civil society, replacing civic norms with ones in which they are the unquestioned arbiters, and those who seek to protect the status quo? In this seminar we will look at works of fiction and narrative non-fiction that have captured this struggle in all its moral, political, and historical dimensions.


Reading list:

The Convert by Deborah Baker (narrative non-fiction)

One of Us: The Story of a Massacre in Norway by Asne Sierstad  (narrative non-fiction)

American War by Omar el Akkad (futurist fiction)

The Plot Against America by Philip Roth (speculative fiction)

Defying Hitler by Sebastien Haffner  (posthumous memoir)


The seminar will be capped at 20 participants, and the books will be provided to all, either as digital copies or in print, by the end of February 2020. The call will close on February 24.


Please register here:



Bio: Deborah Baker was born in Charlottesville and grew up in Virginia, Puerto Rico and New England.  She attended the University of Virginia and the University of Cambridge.  Her first biography, written in college, was Making a Farm: The Life of Robert Bly, published by Beacon Press in 1982. After working a number of years as a book editor and publisher, in 1990 she moved to Calcutta where she wrote In Extremis; The Life of Laura Riding.  Published by Grove Press and Hamish Hamilton in the UK, it was shortlisted for the Pulitzer Prize in Biography in 1994.  Her third book, A Blue Hand: The Beats in India was published by Penguin Press USA and Penguin India in 2008. In 2008–2009 she was a Fellow at the Dorothy and Lewis C. Cullman Center for Writers and Scholars at The New York Public Library.  There she researched and wrote The Convert: A Tale of Exile and Extremism, a narrative account of the life of an American convert to Islam, drawn on letters on deposit in the library’s manuscript division. The Convert, published by Graywolf and Penguin India, was a finalist for the 2011 National Book Award in Non-Fiction. In August 2018, Baker published her fifth work of non-fiction, The Last Englishmen: Love, War and the End of Empire. She has two children and is married to the writer Amitav Ghosh. They divide their time between Brooklyn and Goa.

Mellon Global South Initiative

Mellon Global South Initiative

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded the University of Virginia $3.47 million to launch a major humanities initiative dedicated to the study of the Global South. The College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences will match the grant, making the initial five-year investment to launch the initiative about $7 million.

Clay Endowments & Grants

Clay Endowments & Grants

The Institute of the Humanities and Global Cultures (IHGC) invites proposals for funding from the Buckner W. Clay Endowment to support innovative work in the global humanities at the University of Virginia. The Endowment provides an ambitious basis of support for faculty and student research and teaching to be conducted under the auspices of the IHGC. Faculty and students from across all schools and disciplines at the university are welcome and encouraged to apply. 

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Summer School in Global Studies and Critical Theory

The Academy of Global Humanities and Critical Theory is a new research entity jointly promoted by the University of Virginia, Duke University and the University of Bologna. It is conceived as an intellectual space for scholars coming from different research fields and geographical regions to work together on the redefinition of the humanities in a global age.

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Project Summary: “Caribbean Chronotropes” is a book-length investigation of the depiction of time technologies and time travel in speculative Caribbean novels written between 2008 and 2018. Its central concern is the ways in which Caribbean writers have grappled with concepts from theoretical physics to conceptualize a regional temporality that is out of sync with linear time, and to...

Project Summary: My project on Byzantine urbanism and Athens in particular, seeks to reconstruct the topography and spatial layout of Byzantine Athens (4th-15th c AD), and better understand contemporary living conditions and socio-economic activities in the city. Emphasis is placed on city-making processes and particularly the role of non-elite, ordinary people in them. Similar to...

Project Summary: My current book project reframes narratives of photography’s origin and originality by zooming into the first one hundred years of photography in Senegal (1860-1960). Senegal has received significant attention as one of the epicenters of modernism in the Black Atlantic, and yet, the advent of photography in the country in the 1840s has hardly been considered in...

Project Summary:  This project investigates patterns of migration, transmission of knowledge, and interreligious history after the Mongol conquests of the Middle East and East Asia in the late Middle Ages (1206-1405 A.D.). This Mellon Humanities Fellowship funds research into the history of Islamic learning under the aegis of the Mongol Empire and, specifically, the founding of “...

Project Summary:  How did British society respond — or fail to respond — to the use of torture, summary executions, and other atrocities in its overseas empire after 1945?  Although the absence of sustained outrage at the time has often been attributed to the absence of information, awareness of brutal violence was in fact widespread.  Many different communities or “circles of knowing...

Project Summary:  Cracking Up archives and analyzes how Black feminist comedians assert freedom and citizenship in the United States through joke-telling. I argue that Black feminist comedic performance and the laughter it ignites are vital components of feminist, queer, and anti-racist protest. Through archival research and performance analysis, I study Black women stand-up...