University of New Mexico Associate Professor of History Samuel Truett has been selected as a 2015-16 Fellow at the Institut d’Études Avancées (Institute for Advanced Study) in Nantes, France. 

A historian of North American borderlands and author of Fugitive Landscapes: The Forgotten History of the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands (Yale 2006), Truett will be finishing a border-crossing history of the 19th-century world that focuses on the entanglements of empires, nations and “wandering peoples” in North and South America, South and East Asia, the greater China Seas and the Pacific basin.

Modeled on Institutes for Advanced Study at Princeton and Berlin, the IAS-Nantes seeks to generate dialogue across geographical and disciplinary borders, to encourage scholarship in a “serendipitous environment” and develop “lasting ties and collaborations between intellectuals and artists from all continents.” Recent fellows include historians, sociologists, philosophers, biologists, literary critics, lawyers, economists, poets, archaeologists, cartoonists, computer scientists, mathematicians, architects and composers. 

What makes the IAS-Nantes unique is its effort to nurture intellectual networks between the global north and south—and regularly include scholars, for instance, from Africa and South (or Southeast) Asia. Living and working under the same roof, scholars from north and south approach the “global” human experience from a de-centered perspective—to transcend the dominant methods and values of northern institutions, and perhaps see the world and their work differently.

At Nantes, Truett plans to finish his book, tentatively titled Empire’s Castaway: An Adventurer and the Nineteenth-Century World, but seeks also to build the networks and international profile of the University of New Mexico’s flagship program in borderlands history—a program of study led not only by historians of the American West and Mexico, but also by scholars of Russian, East Asian, Mediterranean and South American borderlands. 

“The north-south focus of the community at IAS-Nantes resonates in powerful ways with the History Department’s broad strengths in borderlands history. It provides us with a unique opportunity to strengthen international ties and leverage our own place at the gateway between the U.S. and Mexico into something greater—to take the lead in a scholarly conversation with global implications," Truett said.