Tag Archive for Pinch

5 Questions with . . . William “Vijay” Pinch on Maritime History

William "Vijay" Pinch, professor of history, adjusts the topsail of the Joseph Conrad, during an NEH-funded summertime institute in June. Pinch participated in the five-week institute, in part, to refine and improve his maritime world history course. (Photo by Heather Agostini)

William “Vijay” Pinch, professor of history, adjusts the topsail of the Joseph Conrad, during an NEH-funded summertime institute in June. Pinch participated in the five-week institute, in part, to refine and improve his maritime world history course. (Photo by Heather Agostini)

In this issue of The Wesleyan Connection, we ask “5 Questions” of William “Vijay” Pinch, professor of history. Pinch spent five weeks this summer interacting with maritime scholars and working in the archives and library at Mystic Seaport. 

Q: What were you studying at Mystic Seaport this summer?

A: From June 25 to to July 27, I was privileged to be a student in a “summer institute” at Mystic Seaport, focused on “The American Maritime People.”  The institute is usually pitched to graduate students, but every few years it is offered to college and university faculty with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities.  This was one of those NEH-funded summers.  The faculty who teach at the institute represent some of the top scholars in maritime history, especially in the context of the Atlantic and (mostly) North American world.  What was especially interesting to me, as someone who was not originally trained in maritime history (or North American history for that matter), was to see how the field of maritime history has broadened, so that it now encompasses everything under the rubric of the human interaction with and perception of the sea over time.  This appealed to my wider world-historical instincts. Similarly, it was instructive to see the ways in which the maritime experience mediated New England’s interaction with other parts of the Americas and the wider world.  We also examined marine environmental history, fisheries history, the history of oceanography, naval history, and the recent maritime past and maritime present–including the geo-strategic challenges on the horizon (especially in the Pacific and Indian Oceans), the rise of container shipping, bulk cargo supertankers, and the mega-cruise ship phenomenon.

Q: How does this inform, or how is it informed by, your other areas of interest?

A: My initial interest in the summer institute at Mystic stemmed from a desire to refine and improve my maritime world history course.  I’ve offered the course in varying incarnations over the past seven years or so, and each time I struggle with what to include and how to organize it.  So the five-week course was excellent for stimulating new thinking along these lines.  I’d like for students to be able to take better advantage of all that Mystic and the wider region have to offer. What makes the summer institute special is the combination of traditional classroom learning with more hands-on “public history” kinds of activities.

Pinch Honored by Indian American Organization

Five Indian Americans, including Wesleyan’s William “Vijay” Pinch, will be felicitated by the Connecticut chapter of the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO) for their achievements and contributions at an awards banquet April 28.

William “Vijay” Pinch will be honored with a Friend of India award at a banquet in Stamford, Conn.

“The award selection is a rigorous process conducted by an independent committee which evaluates all nominations and we are glad we select the best possible candidates every year,” said GOPIO-Connecticut president Shailesh Naik in a Times of India article.

Pinch, professor of history and chair of the History Department, researches and teaches South Asian history, religion and history, and maritime world history.

COE Faculty Fellows Explore Water’s Past, Water’s Future

Wesleyan’s College of the Environment has appointed faculty members Johan “Joop” Varekamp, Clark Maines, Vijay Pinch and Elise Springer as 2011-12 fellows. The fellows will gather with other Wesleyan scholars and undergraduate students for a year-long academic “Think Tank” on a critical environmental issue. The 2011-12 topic is “Water’s Past, Water’s Future.”

The aim of the Think Tank is not only to generate a deeper understanding of the thematic issue, but also to produce scholarly works that will influence national and international thinking and action on the issue. Scholars and students in the think tank are expected to produce scholarly