The International Turn in Intellectual History
Space is the final frontier for intellectual history. Its practitioners have generally assumed that ideas lacked material determinants and that contexts should be construed as temporal and linguistic rather than physical or spatial. This lecture questions these assumptions by examining recent moves to trace the circulation of ideas across ever-more expansive spaces—international, transnational, and global— and to historicize conceptions of supranational spaces, for example in the histories of international law, international relations, and the history of political thought. Drawing on my own recent work on Jeremy Bentham, I argue that this international turn can bring intellectual history into closer dialogue with other areas of inquiry, such as ethics and political theory, that have increasingly turned towards cosmopolitan and global perspectives in recent years. After examining some objections to this movement, I conclude that intellectual history has as much to offer the international turn as the international turn has to offer to intellectual history.
'The International Turn in Intellectual History'
Biography and Publications
DAVID ARMITAGE is the Lloyd C. Blankfein Professor of History and Chair of the History Department at Harvard University, where he teaches intellectual history and international history. He is the author or editor of twelve books, among them The Ideological Origins of the British Empire (Cambridge University Press, 2000),The Declaration of Independence: A Global History (Harvard University Press, 2007), andFoundations of Modern International Thought (Cambridge University Press, 2012), and he is co-editor of the Cambridge University Press series Ideas in Context. He has also published widely in the history of political thought, on Shakespeare, Grotius, Hobbes, Milton, Locke, Bolingbroke, Burke, and Bentham. He is currently working on Civil War: A History in Ideas for Knopf and an edition of John Locke’s colonial writings for the Clarendon Press.
Recent Publications by Armitage:
Armitage, David. "Globalizing Jeremy Bentham." History of Political Thought 32 (2011): 63-82
Armitage, David. "What's the Big Idea? Intellectual History and the Longue Durée," forthcoming in History of European Ideas, 38, 3 (September 2012)
Return to Plenary Speakers.