Knowledge, Empire and the "Brokered World": Locating the Intermediaries and the Go-Betweens

The reading group locates the ubiquitous presence of historical intermediaries and go-betweens (from indigenous translators, collectors, to clerks, scribes, and interpreters) across colonial and postcolonial domains, drawing from a diverse range of studies and texts from the history of science, art history, subaltern studies, anthropology, environmental humanities, and gender and sexuality studies. 

By gathering interested graduate students within the community, the group aims to rethink and interrogate influential categories of knowledge production and circulation and heuristic devices employed by scholars in the past three decades, including studies around the “middle ground,” “contact zone,” and “trading zone.” The group will approach the readings and subsequent discussions with attention to the problems and challenges of interdisciplinary thinking and collaboration. Centered on the position of liminal subjects moving across spaces, the group will draw from this particular focus to read out and see if productive insights could be gained by collectively reading texts that bridge disparate academic geographies and blur hard-drawn disciplinal distinctions. Some themes to be addressed include language, space, translation, archives, postcolonial imaginaries, and materiality.



The meeting will take place twice a month starting in September and ending in December. The total number of meetings will be eight. Each meeting will center on a specific group of texts, one book and supplementary articles. We are also thinking of inviting guest speakers to open the meetings and guide the discussions.


Jonathan Victor Baldoza, G3, History ([email protected])

Eva Molina Flores, G3, History of Science ([email protected])

Possible meeting dates:


            Meeting (1)  Intermediaries (September 14)


            Meeting (2) "Middle Ground" (October 12)

            Meeting (3) Languages and "Trading Zones" (October 25)


The convenors will announce the following meeting dates and posted on this website.