University at Buffalo Department of History


Hubs of Inquiry
(skip to...) Culture & Society, Gender, Knowledge, Politics, and Transnational History

Our faculty and students share an enthusiasm for history as one of the most all-encompassing and thematically rich academic disciplines. Our graduate program cultivates this thematic diversity while also striving to help students develop their specific interests. Mindful that academic positions are usually described along chronological and geographical lines, we train our doctoral students in five such Ph.D. fields--Early Modern and Modern European History, American History, Asian History, and North and South Atlantic History—each with its own introductory core course. We also bridge these disciplinary subdivisions with five thematic Hubs of Inquiry that cross traditional disciplinary boundaries: Culture & Society, Gender, Knowledge, Politics, and Transnational History. These Hubs are not fields of examination or graduation. Instead, they offer intellectual guidance through the myriad of historiographical fields; they energize the intellectual life of our department; and they stimulate and shape a lively exchange between faculty, students, and neighboring disciplines..

Within the History Department, these five Hubs bring together faculty and students from different major fields who share common interests. This form of collaboration materializes in co-taught seminars, sequences of seminars taught over more than one semester, and thematic years. The thematic interests described by our Hubs also guide us to organize workshops and common research or publication projects.

Beyond our department, the Hubs of Inquiry capitalize on UB’s rich intellectual resources and programs, bringing together students and professors from diverse fields. At the College of Arts and Sciences and UB at large, these Hubs stimulate cross-disciplinary activities. The five systematic categories help us to attract Affiliated Faculty (link will open in a new browser window) and intensify links to other departments, such as Anthropology, African American Studies, Art History, Asian Studies, Comparative Literature, English, Geography, Philosophy, Women’s Studies, as well as the School of Medicine, the Law School and the Baldy Center, the Center for the Americas, and the School of Architecture, among others.

To students and scholars across and outside of UB, these five Hubs represent the strengths of our department and its enthusiasm for teaching and research across boundaries of time and space. In addition to our five Ph.D. fields, the five Hubs of Inquiry mark those areas in which we invite graduate students to join us:

Culture & Society
This area deals with the multiple ways human beings have defined their individual and collective identities and structured the social, intellectual, and material world in which they have lived. We consider how class formation, religious beliefs, ethnicity, and race relations have played a prominent role in these processes. We inquire into the every-day-life experiences of people and the history of emotions and group identities. And we ask additional questions, such as: How have language and the circulation of meaning influenced how people think, feel, and act in society? What role have the availability of consumer goods and patterns of urbanization played?

The ways people act, think, and feel are fundamentally influenced by how they see themselves—as well as how they are seen by others—as men and women acting in specific gender roles. In this Hub of Inquiry we raise questions about the history of gender roles, sexuality, and the body. How have gender roles affected individuals and groups? How have they influenced childhood, adolescence, and family life? What role have women’s movements and male authority played in history? How far have assumptions about gender permeated language and knowledge?

In this Hub of Inquiry we ask what constitutes knowledge as a practice, set of ideas and strategy to claim authority. What have been the representations--in word, print, or images--and the social constructions of knowledge? And what have been its ideological implications? Who has produced, defined, and disseminated knowledge to what purposes? Why have societies accepted certain forms of knowledge as legitimate while others forms have remained marginalized? How has knowledge been organized--be it through institutions such as academies and universities, through academic disciplines such as historiography, medicine or the sciences, or in the realm of popular culture? Students and faculty interested in these questions thus ask how the dynamics of knowledge has shaped the world in which we live.

A key dimension of history, politics describes the categories which have been used to organize societies and define interests, to establish authority and exert power. This Hub of Inquiry, therefore, brings together multiple interests. We ask about the genesis of political thinking and the formation of political ideologies. We explore the political economy of societies as well as the role of protest movements and dissenters. Our interests include state-formation and nation-building in history as well as the development of constitutional orders. We ask about the dynamics of international relations and explore how the foreign policy of states and diplomatic actions are embedded in cultural and ideological conditions. We also ask how societies act in times of war, and how concepts of social policy have been developed and changed over time.

Transnational History
Historians are increasingly aware that societies, states, and nations do not exist in isolation from each other. They have always interacted. In this Hub of Inquiry, we inquire into the different modes of interaction: exchange and transfer across borders, mutual perceptions and globalization, transnational relations and migration movements. Transnational History encompasses the various--and methodologically different--concepts of Comparative, Global, and World History. It also responds to questions developed by the concept of the Atlantic World.


Centers and Groups of Interest

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Fellowship Information


Last updated: Friday, July 18, 2008

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