CFP For SEA 2017: Spaces of Death in the Cultures of the Atlantic World

deadline for submissions: 
August 29, 2016
full name / name of organization: 
Jonathan Nash / College of Saint Benedict & Saint John's University
contact email: 

Please consider submitting a proposal to this accepted panel for the 2017 Society of Early Americanists Conference (March 2-4, 2017, Tulsa, Oklahoma)



Spaces of Death in the Cultures of the Atlantic World


In his 1807 An History of Jamaica, Robert Renny declared, "The new world, indeed, appears to be surrounded with the flaming sword of the angel, threatening destruction to all those, who venture within its reach." What if we took Renny's declaration seriously and conceptualized the Atlantic World as a tangled constellation of spaces of death? In Shamanism, Colonialism, and the Wild Man: A Study in Terror and Healing, anthropologist Michael Taussig writes, "The space of death is important in the creation of meaning and consciousness, nowhere more so than in societies where torture is endemic and where the culture of terror flourishes. We may think of the space of death as a threshold that allows for illumination as well as extinction." Building upon Taussig's insight, this panel seeks to explore spaces of death—liminal, threshold spaces infused with fear, magic, sorcery, violence, terror, and torture—to analyze their relationship with intercultural contacts, settler colonialism, cultural narratives, geopolitical strategies, sovereignty, and the structuring of racial, gender, and sexual difference in the Atlantic World. By analyzing the role of spaces of death in creating an illusion of order atop brutal disorder, we can understand how cultures in the Atlantic World coalesced and illuminate the residues of the past that continue to influence the present and shape the future. In the spirit of promoting interdisciplinary conversations, this panel welcomes proposals from scholars of all disciplines, backgrounds, and career stages.


Please send a 200-word abstract and brief biography to Jonathan Nash ( by August 29.