Version classiqueVersion mobile

On the Origins of Global History

 | 
Sanjay Subrahmanyam

Introduction

Serge Haroche
Traduction de Liz Libbrecht

Texte intégral

  • 1 Sanjay Subrahmanyam has been Visiting Professor of Early Modern Global History (Pluri-Annual Chair) (...)

1As Sanjay Subrahmanyam explains, the Chair of Early Modern Global History proposes to “illustrate the notion of ‘connected histories’, an all-encompassing concept for interpreting historical changes on both a large and a small scale, and the central position of which is to challenge the geographical conception underpinning conventional historiography”.1

2Roger Chartier, who presented this Chair to the Faculty, defined it broadly by suggesting that the Collège de France host, I quote: “a global history project that studies the relations between economies and cultures by analysing the networks of exchanges through which people and goods circulate. It also studies the migrations of historical myths and political ideologies, and the experiences of those who have crossed the boundaries drawn between languages, religions and civilizations, and have thus experienced multiple identities”.

3This history primarily concerns early modernity, the period stretching from the fifteenth to the eighteenth centuries, in which the European powers built their large colonial empires, thus bringing together parts of the world that hitherto had remained largely disconnected or even unaware of one another’s existence. The writing of this history cannot be done only from the point of view of the conqueror. It has to draw on a wide variety of archives, be able to criticize and collate texts from diverse origins, and to compare political history to the histories of religions, economies, and trade relations.

4Sanjay Subrahmanyam practises this innovative approach to history at the highest level owing to his command of several European and Indian languages, his multi-disciplinary training as an economist and historian, and his personal experience as a nomad, as he describes himself. He has effectively lived and worked on several continents and developed the ability to absorb multiple influences while comparing different points of view. To illustrate this nomadism, one need only consider his personal trajectory. Born in Delhi in 1961, he studied economic history at the Delhi School of Economics and taught in Delhi until 1995. He was then a directeur d’études at the École des hautes études en sciences sociales in Paris for seven years, and went on to become a Professor at Oxford for two years, before being appointed in 2004 as a Professor at the University of California (UCLA). He is now taking the route back to the East, dare I say, by returning to Europe to become a Professor at the Collège de France.

  • 2 Three Ways to Be Alien. Travails and Encounters in the Early Modern World, Brandeis University Pres (...)
  • 3 The Career and Legend of Vasco da Gama, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1997.
  • 4 The Political Economy of Commerce: Southern India 1500-1650, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, (...)
  • 5 The Portuguese Empire in Asia, 1500-1700, London, Longman, 1993.

5For whoever wishes simply to get to know Sanjay Subrahmanyam’s work and have an idea of his approach to history, I would recommend his most recent book Three Ways to Be Alien2, which relates three singular adventures of men who lived in the seventeenth century between several cultures: an Indian prince who was imprisoned by the Portuguese; an English adventurer who travelled through France and Persia; and an exiled Venetian merchant in Mughal India for sixty years. I also recommend his biography of Vasco de Gama3, in which he destroys the icon, so dear to Portuguese nationalism, of the disinterested founder of the Portuguese Empire. He replaces it with a far more contrasting image of a greedy, cruel man who knew nothing about the civilized regions he landed at on the new sea route via the Cape of Good Hope. Among Sanjay Subrahmanyam’s many other publications, I would like to mention his book The Political Economy of Commerce4, in which he analyses the economy of Southern India in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and The Portuguese Empire in Asia5 in which he describes in a new light the Portuguese colonization of Indian Ocean islands and parts of its coast.

6Today the Collège de France welcomes a historian of global history whose method is inspired by and revives the Annales approach that Fernand Braudel and, more recently, our honorary colleague Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie illustrated so brilliantly in our institution. Sanjay Subrahmanyam, you now have the floor to present your Inaugural Lecture entitled On the Origins of Global History.

Notes

1 Sanjay Subrahmanyam has been Visiting Professor of Early Modern Global History (Pluri-Annual Chair) since 2014.

2 Three Ways to Be Alien. Travails and Encounters in the Early Modern World, Brandeis University Press, 2011.

3 The Career and Legend of Vasco da Gama, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1997.

4 The Political Economy of Commerce: Southern India 1500-1650, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, coll. “South Asian Studies”, no. 45, 2002.

5 The Portuguese Empire in Asia, 1500-1700, London, Longman, 1993.

© Collège de France, 2016

Licence OpenEdition Books

Acheter

Rechercher dans OpenEdition Search

Vous allez être redirigé vers OpenEdition Search