Everyday Empires, Trans-Imperial Circulations in a Multi-Disciplinary Perspective

deadline for submissions: 
February 1, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
Universty of Birmingham
contact email: 

The Modern and Contemporary History Centre and the Birmingham Research Institute for History and Cultures at the University of Birmingham invites postgraduate researchers and early-career (PhD awarded in the last eight years) academics to submit papers for a two-day conference sponsored by Past & Present on the theme of “everyday empires.”

“Everyday Empires: Trans-Imperial Circulations in a Multi-Disciplinary Perspective” aims to bring together scholars working across geographical, chronological, and methodological lines to reinterpret the ways in which empire was lived through commonplace things, spaces, and decisions in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. A key focus of the conference is to develop a greater discussion of inter-imperial and trans-imperial dynamics. Historians of the United States, British, French, Habsburg, Qing, and Ottoman empires are all encouraged to submit papers to foster a dialogue that can all too often be cantonized by the archival legacies of imperial political structures or by the constraints of their respective research languages.

Our approach will advance understandings of trans-imperial circulations related to race, gender, class, sexuality, commodities, diaspora and mobility. In taking this line we do not abandon the nation-state as an object of analysis, nor do we discount the violent and coercive mechanisms that sustained imperial power. Nor, finally, do we assume imperial rule to have been an all-pervasive mode of political organisation, itself impervious to the counter-forces local and areas-studies methodologies have made visible. Instead, we ask scholars to interrogate empire as a process emergent through the everyday, ontologically negotiated material practices of its citizens and subjects: from bicycles to hotel bars; from medicine cabinets to the daily labour of the rubber plantation; from teakettles to steamship tickets.

Key axes of exchange will be:

  • How does our view of empire change when we look at the ordinary or mundane?
  • Does the everyday open a useful space to explore inter-imperial or trans-imperial circuits and connections?
  • How do mundane objects allow us to examine the intersections of the local with the global?

Fundamental to the conference is our intention to bring together senior and junior colleagues, affording opportunities for mentoring and intellectual cross-fertilisation. Six significant scholars in their fields will “anchor” six long-form panels across two days. We see this two-day conference as an important opportunity to create a conversation that is not limited to advanced career scholars but puts equal value on the voices of a diverse selection of junior academics. As such we especially encourage proposals from doctoral students and early career researchers. The conference will be capped and spurred on by a keynote address from Daniel Bender (Toronto).

Confirmed panellists include: James McDougall (Oxford); Samiksha Sehrawat (Newcastle); Artemy Kalinovsky (Amsterdam); Stephen Tuffnell (Oxford); and Vernadette Vicuña Gonzalez (Hawai’i).

Please send proposals consisting of an abstract of 300 words and a two-page C.V. to Dr. Nathan Cardon (N.Cardon@bham.ac.uk) by 1 February 2017.