School of Historical Studies

World Disorder Lecture Series: Latin America: Walls or Bridges?

Jeffrey Davidow
Retired US Ambassador to Mexico, Venezuela, and Zambia; Cohen Group
March 1, 2017
Latin America’s move in recent decades to greater levels of democracy and economic development are undermined by weak institutions, corruption and the lure of populism. While it is a zone of peace with no international hostilities or significant internal insurrections at this time, the nations of the region must deal with complicated futures, which can impact the United States. Cuba, Mexico and Venezuela all face potential profound change.

Book Talk: The Invention of Humanity

Nicola di Cosmo, Jonathan Israel, Michael Walzer, and Siep Stuurman
March 1, 2017
During most of history, inequality was the habitual and reasonable standard, while equality stood in need of justification, if it was considered at all. Inequality was omnipresent, palpable and realistic, while equality had to be imagined, argued for, conjured up from somewhere. In short, equality had to be invented. In this public book talk, Siep Stuurman will discuss the themes of his book The Invention of Humanity (Harvard University Press) in a panel discussion with Nicola di Cosmo, Jonathan Israel, and Michael Walzer.

"Rogue Philologists: the Puzzling Case of Huang Kan’s Commentary in Tokugawa Japan (1603-1867) and Qing China (1644-1911)”

Benjamin Elman
Princeton University
November 18, 2016
S.T. Lee Lecture: Philologists as Rogues?
Benjamin Elman, Gordon Wu ’58 Professor of Chinese Studies at Princeton University and former Mellon Visiting Professor (1999-2001) in the School of Historical Studies at the Institute, will deliver a public lecture, “Philologists as Rogues? The Life of a Confucian Classic Recovered in Early Modern Japan and Its Transmission Back to Imperial China,” on Friday, November 18, at 4:30 p.m. in West Lecture hall on the Institute campus.

Contesting American Values

Jonathan Israel
Institute for Advanced Study
October 28, 2016
The American Revolution had an enormous, but bitterly divisive impact on European (and Canadian and Latin America) political thought and attitudes. From 1776 began a furious ideological war within the USA over the question of democracy that helped precipitate an even more ferocious conflict between democratic and aristocratic forms of government in Europe. By the 1820s, it seemed that the aristocratic-monarchical system, led by Britain, had finally extinguished "Americanism" everywhere outside the USA.

Who Lost the Middle East?

Richard Murphy
Former U.S. Ambassador to Syria and Saudi Arabia
April 29, 2016
What brought about the current chaos in the Middle East? Did the machinations of the Cold War exhaust the region leaving it unable to develop new relationships between governor and governed? As Americans, how much should we criticize our role or even a particular Administration? In this public lecture, Richard Murphy will draw on his experiences as U.S. Ambassador to Syria and Saudi Arabia and Assistant Secretary of State for the region to attempt a reply.

Picasso and Abstraction: Encounters and Avoidance

Yve-Alain Bois
Professor, School of Historical Studies
April 6, 2016
Pablo Picasso did not speak often about abstraction, but when he did, it was either to dismiss it as complacent decoration or to declare its very notion an oxymoron. The root of this hostility is to be found in the impasse that the artist reached in the summer 1910, when abstraction suddenly appeared as the logical development of his previous work, a possibility at which he recoiled in horror. But though he swore to never go again near abstraction, he could not prevent himself from testing his resolve from time to time.

And Now for the Hard Part: China's Economic Adjustment After Three Miracle Decades

Michael Pettis
Professor, Peking University; Guanghua School of Management
February 2, 2016
In this public lecture, Michael Pettis will explore China’s tumultuous stock market and its impact on the global economy. A Wall Street veteran at Bear Stearns and Credit Suisse First Boston, Pettis has the unique distinction of having been right ahead of time in predicting the Chinese economic crisis.

Do We Understand Putin's Russia?

Jonathan Haslam
George F. Kennan Professor in the School of Historical Studies
November 7, 2015
We should not assume that making sense of post-Soviet Russia was ever going to be easy. Great Powers that lose empires bear grudges and the speed with which an empire is lost can exacerbate the problem. No one can expect that a powerful country run by a former secret policeman is going to operate by the same rules of the game to which we are accustomed. Quite simply, what may seem sensible or rational to ourselves is irrelevant. In this public lecture, Jonathan Haslam, George F.

Remembering Patricia Crone (1945–2015)

Diana Frank, Thomas Frank, Michael Cook, Judith Herrin, Carol Bakhos, Emma Gannagé, Carmela V. Franklin, Robbert Dijkgraaf, Nicola Di Cosmo
October 24, 2015

Patricia Crone, Professor Emerita in the School of Historical Studies, helped to establish the Institute as a recognized center for the pursuit of Islamic culture and history. Crone’s insightful work shed important new light on the critical importance of the Near East—in particular on the cultural, religious, and intellectual history of Islam—in historical studies.