Encounters, Ethnographies, and Empires
The UIC Department of History invites applications for its PhD concentration, “Encounters, Ethnographies, and Empires.” The Encounters concentration draws upon the expertise of faculty with regional specializations in Africa, Asia, Latin America, Europe, and the United States to offer students who specialize in any one of these areas the opportunity for comparative study and research on topics related to encounters between different peoples, cultures, and continents. Faculty participating in the concentration share common interests in how empires from the ancient world to the imperial nation-states of the twentieth century proclaimed the transformative power of universals such as religion, civilization, or democracy. Empires were also the site of interactions and encounters, which led to negotiation and exchange, as well as relations of domination and resistance. We also investigate how empires produced ethnographies of difference, using religion, science and civilization to classify and rank imperial subjects, with the result that cultural difference underpinned imperial power. Course work will provide students working in different regions of the world with frameworks that cut across regional specializations, providing a firm grounding for the exploration of global themes as well as training in the regions of their own specialization.
Applying to Encounters
You apply to the Encounters program when you submit your application for admission to the History PhD itself. Simply mention in your interest in Encounters in your statement of purpose and be sure to check the “Encounters” box when you fill out the Reference Cover Sheet. Everyone applying to Encounters must submit all application materials by the December 15 deadline.
Requirements for the Concentration
Students entering with a BA must complete four graduate colloquia offered by the Encounters faculty, most but not all of which are offered as History 594. (Those who enter the program with a Master’s degree in hand must complete three such courses.) In addition, Encounters regularly sponsors fundamental courses in European history (History 511) and World history (History 503), which can provide the framework for one of two required minor fields. When a student is taking a research seminar, s/he should enroll in only one other course that semester; otherwise, the normal, anticipated course load is three graduate (500-level) courses per semester. Encounters students fulfill these requirements concurrently with the other requirements for the PhD in history.
What Does a Typical Course of Study Look Like?
Students entering the program with a BA will take the History Department’s gateway graduate course – History 501 – in their first semester. This is also a when you will take your first colloquium (History 594), a course centered on a theme or topic. Recent colloquia have been on offered on Commodities, Class, and Landscape in Latin America; Food Systems in World History; Colonies and Empires; The Dissolution of the East European Imperium and the Construction of National Communities; Empires, Encounters and Ethnography from the Renaissance to the Victorian Period; and Nationalism and Modernity.
In the spring semester of your first year, you will take a second colloquium and your first research seminar. You will also have the opportunity this semester to explore other course offerings in History, and allied departments if you are preparing an external minor field. The second year builds upon the first with a combination of colloquia and a research seminar in the spring. You may want to explore a topic in greater detail by taking a one-on-one directed readings course with one of the faculty. Throughout their course work students are encouraged to confer with advisors on dissertation topics and prepare grant applications.
Most students will take their PhD qualifying exams (called prelims at UIC) in the fall or spring of their third year. Next semester comes the dissertation prospectus and perhaps some early writing on your dissertation topic. After that, it’s into the field for research!
Many Encounters students have won prestigious awards.
Sunil Agnani: European Enlightenment, Empire and Decolonization, 18th c. British and French thought
Chris Boyer: Modern Mexico, Environmental
Joaquin Chavez: Latin American and Caribbean, Cold War in the Global South, Atlantic World
Jonathan Daly: Modern Russia, Modern Europe
Gosia Fidelis: Eastern Europe Modern Europe Gender , Comparative Communist Systems
Kirk Hoppe: World History, East Africa
Laura Hostetler: Late Imperial China, Comparative Early Modern Empires, History of Cartography and Ethnography
Nicole Jordan: Modern Europe, Transnational History
Ralph Keen: Early-Modern Religious and Political Thought
Mark Liechty: Consumerism/Tourism in Asia, Cultural Theory
Rama Mantena: South Asia, British Empire, Historiography, Public Sphere
Ellen McClure: 17th-century France
Marina Mogilner: Modern Russia, empire and imperialism
Zinon Papakonstantinou: Ancient Greece, Social and Cultural history
Keely Stauter-Halsted: History of Poland