Empires, Borderlands, and their Legacies

An interdisciplinary research cluster under the auspices of the history department

Recognizing that borderlands occur within and between empires or states, in liminal environments and within and between ideologies, schools or doctrines, we seek to

  • Analyze problems and opportunities arising for and among people inhabiting and traversing borderlands along with the multiple identities or ambiguities they perform.
  • Study why and how, confronted with these borderland experiences, groups sometimes polarize discourse and behavior by claiming that primordial sentiments constitute nations, peoples or groups of true believers.
  • Seek to understand, especially for these borderlands regions, what can give social sanction to violence at the level of family, community or nation.
  • Explore methodologies and theoretical perspectives that may enhance our understanding of these issues, in particular those that underscore the constructed character of categories and seek to elucidate the borderlands between seemingly boundaried entities or groups.
  • Expand public understanding and discussion of these concerns.
  • Bring these concerns and the methodologies for studying them into an increasingly diverse classroom

Activities and goals

  • Year-long invited lecture series/colloquium, involving invited guests and local scholars; can be taken for graduate credit; counts as one grad seminar for faculty organizer
  • Departmental Ph.D. Field in Borderlands Studies. One requirement is the colloquium seminar
  • Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Emphasis in Borderlands Studies
  • Partnership with the IHC Identity RFG
  • Partnership with the IHC ancient borderlands RFG
  • Partnership with other department clusters as appropriate
  • Planned participation in the UC HBCU initiative and other projects aimed at enhancing campus diversity
  • Webpage with links to these groups, together with the University of Nebraska monograph series, UC journal of late ancient worlds
  • Reach toward potential affiliates in ecology, marine, and environmental science
  • Sponsor conferences and workshops



  • Badamo
  • Kaplan
  • Smith
    and others…