Steve Witt

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Personal profile

Personal profile

Dr. Steve Witt has been the Director of the Center for Global Studies (CGS) at the University of Illinois since 2015. In 2018, the Center was designated a US Department of Education National Resource Center for the 5th consecutive time.  Witt is an associate professor and has been head of the International and Area Studies Library since 2011.  In the library, he is the subject specialist librarian for Global Studies and Japanese Studies. Witt is also editor of IFLA Journal, the flagship journal of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions.

Research Interests

My research focuses on the trajectory and impacts of international developments in library and information science, placing global trends in librarianship and knowledge production in the context of wider social and technological developments.

I’m currently working on a long term project that aims to complete a global history on the public information campaigns of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (CEIP) to “internationalize” the minds of the world population through library collections, book distribution, and academic networking. Although historical in nature, the manner by which information networks impact public opinion resonates with contemporary debates about the impact of social media amidst the rise of anti-globalist and nativist sentiment. I spent a sabbatical in the spring and summer of 2019 at Hitotsubashi University in Tokyo, Japan, as a visiting research professor to develop this project further. Hitotsubashi is a prestigious public university and hosts the world’s first PhD program in Global Studies. Much research on interwar internationalism has focused on transpacific networks between Western Europe and the Americas with less emphasis on significant interactions with Imperial Japan, East Asia’s dominate power during this period. Through my sabbatical research, I examined documents and book collections that will enable me to include Imperial Japan into the analysis of the work of the CEIP with libraries and academic groups. Working within the Institute for the Study of Global Issues, I expanded my research to include important Japanese perspectives on the interplay between nationalism and internationalism that will help to illuminate the internal struggles between nationalism and internationalism that extended to academic and book networks.

Within this long-term project, I am expanding my historical research methodologies to include digital humanities. I’ve used limited DH methods within some of my historical research and hope to expand this towards work with a broader corpus of materials. Specifically, I have begun to create a corpus of the books disseminated by the CEIP as a part of its International Mind campaign.  These books, which were published between 1918 and 1945 represent a consciously curated collection of nearly 1,000 books used to influence public opinion and achieve specific policy aims on a global scale. Analyses of the content and language of these materials using DH methods has the potential to provide unique insights into the manner by which ideas such as “peace”, “globalism”, and “internationalism” were constructed, symbolized, contested, and employed toward creating the globalized liberal democratic order implemented after World War Two and challenged today with the resurgence of anti-globalist and nativist movements around the world.

Education

Library and Information Science, MS LIS, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
Library and Information Science, PhD, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Keywords

  • Z665 Library Science. Information Science
  • D History (General)
  • Information History
  • Transnational History

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