Violence and Order

The inaugural research module of the Caltech-Huntington Humanities Collaborations (CHHC) is on violence and order in historical perspective. This multidisciplinary module, running from fall of 2016 through spring of 2018, brings together scholars from Caltech, The Huntington, and other institutions to study the various roles that violence has played in political and social order, as well as the possible norms and cultural attitudes that have governed its use. The module is anchored in the pre-modern world and especially pre-modern Europe. It is intended to contribute in important ways to broader discussions about violence in the modern world–discussions that are limited by an incomplete grasp both of modern violence’s historical roots and the historical contingency of the terms and assumptions that scholars bring to the table as they try to understand it.

To explore violence and order in this period, the module brings together people from a variety of disciplines. History and literature will form the primary axis, reflecting the current population of Caltech and The Huntington. Collaborators from fields such as law, cultural history (e.g., art history or visual culture), political science, international relations, and terrorism studies also will participate. The module aims to place the modern scholarship on violence against its historical backdrop. This will allow participants to explore both the origins and historical contingency of modern assumptions about violence and order and use the past to help understand the current behavior of non-Western or non-state actors.