I’ve just been selected to attend the National History Center’s Decolonization Seminar [PDF] in Washington DC this July! It’s a four-week summer program for 15 grads or recent grads, to discuss the history of decolonization in the twentieth century with some of the doyens of imperial scholarship (eg. the towering & brilliant Wm. Roger Louis of OHBE fame). I’m ridiculously excited. Access to all the main repositories of Washington! A month of intense writing and discussion with people working on exciting things! All expenses paid! The Library of Congress!!!1!!11!1 I’ve used far more exclamation marks in this paragraph than are good for anybody’s health!1!1!11!!!2
On a more serious note, I was thrilled in the first place to find out that such a seminar existed, let alone one that tied so beautifully in with the themes of my own research. My time at Cambridge, interacting with a wonderfully bright group of world history grads, has taught me that there’s so much to be gained from looking at the same thing from many different points of view. I mean this in the particular sense of empire, a topic for which there seems to exist relatively few intra-empire studies (comparing countries colonized within a single empire) and even fewer inter-empire studies (comparing one empire with another). But I also mean in the general sense of an intellectual approach to problems: the conviction that one can’t approach research solipsistically, but must fashion it out of dialogue — with other areas of study, other disciplines, other viewpoints, other people. The seminar seems just perfect, on both counts. I’m looking forward it immensely.
Also did I mention the Library of Congress? (SLOBBER).