"The Global Elightenment": Sophie Gee and Sarah Rivett

Sophie Gee and Sarah Rivett, co-winners of a $50,000 Innovation Grant for New Ideas in the Humanities, are collaborating on a project called “The Global Enlightenment.” This project takes a new look at the idea of "Enlightenment" by emphasizing its role as a complex global phenomenon. Scholars understand the 18th Century to be the era in which the Western world turned secular, as intellectual, cultural, and political institutions were liberated from Christianity. But the Enlightenment is not just applicable to Western history and civilization. Talking about the secularization of politics and culture does not adequately account for what was happening around the world. Gee and Rivett have just launched “The Global Enlightenment” with a major international conference at Princeton in 2017, featuring leading scholars of the 18th C. Middle East, Asia-Pacific, Africa, and "the Indies" alongside new perspectives on American and European global interests. In the coming years they will continue to investigate conflicts within Christianity and other major world religions; global economic and political exchanges; and the emergence of difference and diversity as a result of global Enlightenments. Ultimately, theirs is a project about how modernity gets constructed during the 18th C. and beyond, including our contemporary global present.