Edinburgh Centre for Global History

History and Objectives

The Edinburgh Centre for Global History was formally established on 1 January 2019. It serves to build on and expand the University of Edinburgh’s long tradition of studying the histories of migration, diaspora and slavery.

The Scottish Centre for Diaspora Studies was established in 2008 with a generous donation of nearly £1 million from Alan and Anne McFarlane, which was used to fund the William R. McFarlane Scholarship to support doctoral research in the history of migration and diaspora. In its first years of development, the Centre focused on work on the Scottish diaspora, which, on account of its nature, scale, and world-wide impact provided a superb 'laboratory' for research on international mobility. More recently, attention has been given to migration, transnationalism and diasporas from many parts of the world: issues of current concern with long historical legacies.  From 2014, the Centre developed a core interest in slavery studies. 

In January 2019, the Scottish Centre for Diaspora Studies merged with the Global & Transnational History Research Group to create the new Edinburgh Centre for Global History. Histories of diaspora, the forced and unforced migration of peoples, and slavery remain central to the new Centre, but its remit has expanded to include the movements of objects, images and ideas, and the histories of world regions approached in a global perspective, ranging chronologically from antiquity to the contemporary world.

Central research themes include: histories of diaspora and migration; Scottish and Scottish diaspora history in global perspective; the history of slavery; the history of consumption; global histories of material culture; global histories of ideas and the development of new critical tools for the study of global history.

In addition to hosting an evening seminar series and the Annual Lecture in the History of Slavery,  we hold informal workshops and work-in-progress seminars that provide an opportunity to read and discuss the current research of our members and develop new critical tools for the study of global and transnational history. We provide support for colleagues developing new research projects, particularly at the idea or concept stage. We seek to build connections between researchers across the University of Edinburgh and to contribute to curriculum development in global history in general and our core areas of research focus in particular. The William R. McFarlane Scholarship continues to support innovative PhD research in the histories of migration and diaspora.