Mershon Co-Sponsors Series on Crisis, Uncertainty and History

August 12, 2022

Mershon Co-Sponsors Series on Crisis, Uncertainty and History

CHR cosponsorship

The Mershon Center is proud to announce the co-sponsorship of a series with the Center for Historical Research on the topic of "Crisis, Uncertainty, and History: Trajectories and Experiences of Accelerated Change."

The CHR lecture series, with an accompanying interdisciplinary graduate seminar, launches an examination of the problem of crisis in history. Historians study trajectories of change through time.  We are concerned with the pace and causes of change and we are concerned with its experiential impact and societal outcomes.   And sometimes change accelerates, in a swirl of dynamic interactions that take us by surprise, leading us out of routines into unfamiliar spaces.  In common parlance, such moments of accelerated change are called crises, and they are characteristically accompanied by the experience of uncertainty.   This series was spurred by the sudden challenges and uncertainties in our recent and ongoing experience with the Covid-19 pandemic, the murder of George Floyd and the acceleration of the Black Lives Matter Movement, and a crisis of constitution and political culture that has erupted with and since the 2020 election.   By the Autumn of 2021 the series hopes to be in a position to assess the events of 2020, and to situate them into a longer sequence of conditions, impacts, and consequences.  New insights will have been inspired by scholars’ own experiences in this crisis, a rare opportunity for the academy.   As disturbing, disruptive, and potentially transformative as our particular moment in the spring of 2020 has been, there have been a sequence of dynamic ruptures, crises, which have unfolded in the recent past.  Clearly, the dynamics and experience of “crisis” pervades our modern experience, and our historical work on the past 5000 years at minimum contains innumerable such “crisis moments.”  

The 2022-23 Series will feature the following events, some hybrid, some Zoom only.

Autumn 2022:

Sept. 16: Joseph Manning, Classics, History, and Law, Yale University,

“Climate and Society from Egypt to India to China: A Regional Crisis at 160BCE?”

Author of The Open Sea: The Economic Life of the Ancient Mediterranean World from the Iron Age to the Rise of Rome (Princeton, 2018). 


Oct. 7: Sarah Muir, Anthropology, CUNY Graduate Center.

“When Crisis Becomes Routine: Notes from Argentina, 2001-2022."     

Author of Routine Crisis: An Ethnography of Disillusion (2021).


Oct 28: Bedour Alagraa, African and African Diaspora Studies, University of Texas at Austin.

“Bad Infinities: Catastrophe and its ‘Changing Same’.”

Author of The Interminable Catastrophe, in preparation.


Nov. 18: Serhy Yekelchyk, History and Germanic & Slavic Studies, University of Victoria.        “How Does New Imperial History Help Us Understand Putin’s War against Ukraine.” 

Author of Ukraine: What Everyone Needs to Know (2020); Stalin’s Citizens: Everyday Politics in the Wake of Total War ( 2014); Ukraine: Birth of a Modern Nation (2007). 


Spring 2023:

Jan. 13: Adam Tooze, History, Columbia University.

Author of Crashed: How a Decade of Financial Crises Changed the World (2018); The Deluge: The Great War and the Remaking of the Global Order, 1916-1931  (2014); Wages of Destruction: The Making and Breaking of the Nazi Economy (2006).


Feb. 17: Edward Foley, Moritz College of Law, Ohio State University.

Author of Presidential Elections and Majority Rule (2020), Ballot Battles: The History of Disputed Elections in the United States (2016),  Principles of Law: Non-Precinct Voting and Resolution of Ballot-Counting Disputes, and co-author of  Election Law and Litigation: The Judicial Regulation of Politics (2014).


Feb. 24: Adia Benton, Cultural Anthropology, Northwestern University.

Author of  HIV Exceptionalism: Development through Disease in Sierra Leone ( 2015), Winner, 2017 Rachel Carson Prize, Society for The Social Studies of Science.


April 14: Ling Zhang, History, Boston College. 

Author The River, the Plain, and the State: An Environmental Drama in Northern Song China, 1048-1128 (2016).