Summer School 2019 – Macro versus Micro: The Challenges of Global Intellectual History

Dates and Times: 5 June (introductory meeting, 14-17h), 3, 4, 5 July (9-18h) 2019
Venue: Utrecht University
Open to: RMa-students and PhD researchers from the Huizinga Institute and other national research schools
Credits: 5 ECTS
Coordination: Prof Annelien de Dijn (UU), Dr Matthijs Lok (UvA)
Registration (Maximum participants in this event: 30)
Register before 15 April 2019

Worldwide, intellectual history is moving into new, exciting directions. Tapping into new source materials, covering longer stretches of time, dealing with broader geographical spaces, making comparisons and drawing connections on a global scale, as well as combining established and new (digital) methods, both young and up-coming as well as established experts are in search for new answers – and perhaps more importantly – new questions. The aim of the Huizinga Summer school is to discuss the methods and insights of Global Intellectual History with RMa students and PhD researchers.

Since a decade or so, intellectual historians are self-consciously treading the paths of ‘big’ and ‘global’ intellectual history. Established intellectual history methods such as the ‘history of concepts’ (Koselleck) and the ‘history of political languages’ (Pocock) have from their inception pursued long-term chronological and broad geographical enquiries. Yet only recently more self-reflective endeavours have been made to explicate and articulate both the potentialities and challenges of doing intellectual history ‘on a large scale’. In response to criticisms that ‘big intellectual history’ runs the risk of neglecting the specific (cultural, linguistic, political, intellectual, social) contexts in which ideas are embedded, David Armitage has suggested ‘serial contextualism’ as a way to trace ideas through a number of epochs and places. Others have made a case for ‘global comparative history’ to enable comparisons of epoch and places that are not necessarily connected; and yet others stress the need for examining the circulation, transfer, intermeshing, and adaptation of ideas.

Although these are promising and suggestive approaches to intellectual history on a ‘macro level’, they raise the question what role there is left for intellectual history on the ‘micro level’. Is it possible to somehow bring into dialogue the ‘macro’ and the ‘micro’, and if so, how? Furthermore, by focusing on ‘big’ and ‘global’ – and stressing interconnectedness, exchange, and integration – who and what is included and excluded? Surely resistance, conflict, separation, and isolation are also part of big and global intellectual history. Such considerations, finally, raise questions about the use, value, lessons and challenges of big and global intellectual history. Why should we do it? What is its societal value?


Dr Camille Creyghton (UvA/KCL)
Prof. Annelien de Dijn (UU)
Dr Ruud van Dijk (UvA)
Dr Lisa Kattenberg (UvA)
Dr René Koekkoek (UU)
Dr Matthijs Lok (UvA)

Keynote speakers

Prof. Dominic Sachsenmeier (Georg-August University Göttingen)
Prof. Sachsenmaier holds a chair professorship in “Modern China with a Special Emphasis on Global Historical Perspectives”. Sachsenmaier’s main current research interests include China’s transnational and global connections in the past and present. Furthermore he has published in fields such as Chinese concepts of society, the global contexts of European history and multiple modernities. He is the author of: Global Entanglements of a Man Who Never Traveled: A 17th– Century Chinese Christian and his Conflicted Worlds (New York: Columbia University Press, 2018); Global Perspectives on Global History. Theories and Approaches in a Connected World, (Cambridge University Press, 2011). Together with Sven Beckert he edited History, Globally, (London: Bloomsbury, 2018); with Margrit Pernau he edited Global Conceptual history: A Reader, (London: Bloomsbury, 2016).

Prof. Andrew Fitzmaurice (University of Sydney)
Prof. Fitzmaurice’s research has focused upon the ideologies of European empires. His early work concerned the political ideas of early American colonisation. More recently, he has been concerned with Europeans’ justifications for the appropriation of land and sovereignty in the non-European world from the sixteenth century through to the twentieth. His current research project focuses on the role of the British nineteenth-century jurist Sir Travers Twiss in the justification of the Congo Free State. He is the author of: Sovereignty, Property and Empire, 1500-2000 (Cambridge: CUP, 2014); Humanism and America: An intellectual history of English colonisation, 1500-1625 (Cambridge: CUP, 2003). Recent publications include ‘Scepticism of the Civilizing Mission in International Law’, In: M. Koskenniemi, W. Rech, M. Jimenez Fonseca (eds.), International Law and Empire: Historical Explorations (Oxford: OUP).

More information TBA