All posts by Aden Knaap

CFC: Postcolonial Economies: Genealogies of Capital and the Colonial Encounter (edited collection, Sept 30, 2017)

For scholars working on the global history of capital and colonialism, with a particular interest in the question of reparations and broader economic-historical questions, here is a for contributions to what sounds like a fascinating edited collection:


Regarding an ongoing research project at Columbia University, Barnard student Sabrina Singer reflected that when she walks around the campus, now, she wonders: “What else is history going to forget?” The research Singer and her student colleagues are doing looks at the historical ties between the institution now educating them and the historical institution of slavery. We were prompted to similar reflections having visited Yale’s Peabody Museum and an exhibit there of Elihu Yale’s gemstones collection. Included in the display is a painting of Yale: he is pictured with a large unfinished diamond ring on his finger, symbolizing Britain’s dominance over India. The exhibit inadvertently prompts questions touching the economic legacy of a place like Yale, rooted in imperialist plunder and enslavement given its principal benefactor; Yale worked for the British East India Company as magistrate of Madras, India. He was famous there not only for his rapacious amassing of gemstones but also for the public hanging of a six-year old Indian child.

The economic history of Yale’s founding and its founder involves multiple debts, not just resources (gemstones, in this case) but human bodies and the lives those bodies might have lived had they not been colonized or not been enslaved or not been violently ended. At a time when economists (Piketty 2014; Stiglitz 2013) and educationalists are re-imagining universities as transnational corporations “perpetuating” and “exacerbating” inequalities and a “caste system” (Guinier 2015; Mettler 2014; Stevens 2007), it is perhaps no surprise to find the roots of these institutions lodged deep in historical slavery and other forms of exploitation and oppression. What do the economics of Yale’s transnational and transcontinental work for the British East India Co. mean in terms of the trajectories of wealth and privilege that connect to and extend from the institution, founded and fueled by forms of corrupt funding? What has that capital enabled or foreclosed in the time since? The political context of Yale’s origins extends to and marks, for example, twentieth-century Asian branches of the Yale corporation in regions where the British East India Co. also held sway. The Yale in China Association, through donations from the Ford Foundation and other U.S. organizations, helped establish the New Asia College in Hong Kong and then the Chinese University of Hong Kong in the fifties and sixties.

We take Yale and Columbia as object lessons for a broader inquiry that extends to Asia and marks U.S. educational intervention there. This project addresses not merely the context of the university but political history itself and the colonial economics of border politics, the control of trade, or enslavement and indentured servitude as industrial praxes. It is both a regional and a revisionist study that asks why we have not looked at economic genealogies more generally in our research on postcolonial history and postcoloniality? Why do we not more rigorously assess the roots of wealth and poverty, the costs and benefits of empire to colonizer and colonized alike, the economics of geopolitical annexations occurring in conjunction with decolonization in places like Ireland, India or Hong Kong? It may indeed be, as Joe Cleary recently argued, because postcolonial theory has for too long privileged “modernist-associated terms such as hybridity, polyphony, pastiche, irony, and defamiliarization rather than realist-associated conceptual categories such as historical transition, class consciousness and totality” (2012, 265)?

These questions impel the postcolonial critic toward an ethical project that unpacks systems and structures of economic disparity, toward an examination of the international sites and systems permitting or limiting the generation of wealth and structuring its distribution, not least in regard to international power relations that propel systems of education. Historians are calling for such revisionist readings in term of economics at a time when resurgent imperialist populism drives independence movements in the British Isles. Brexit has incited independence and unification debates in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland that are today less nationalistic than economic. British M.P., historian and novelist Shashi Tharoor’s Inglorious Empire (2017) looks, for instance, at the damaging impacts of the two-hundred years during which Britain dominated South Asia. He tabulates the costs not merely of human suffering and loss or cultural colonialism but foregrounds also a well-honed economic accounting. As Ta-Nehisi Coates has recently done in the American context, Tharoor is making the case for (postcolonial) reparations. He calls for symbolic forms of repair for India from a United Kingdom reeling from Brexit. Hong Kong’s own decolonisation has failed to quell a nostalgia for colonialism that is slowly being diluted in the face of vast Chinese economic designs for the Pearl River Delta Region. The Philippines and Japan also weigh up economic and colonial histories and obligations in light of new fiscal interventions in the Asia-Pacific by China. Retrieving labor and economic histories helps unpack the continued sustenance of Eurocentrist theory in the Asia-Pacific at a time when the European project itself is teetering.

At a time when states, universities, and liberal discourses themselves are facing calls for reparations, renegotiations and redress in the face of a revisionist revival of economic histories, the field of postcolonial studies recognises scholarship examining the growth and (re)distribution of wealth as needed, timely and promising. In the scholarship constructing colonial history and postcoloniality one finds an abundance of work dealing with the consumption and perpetuation of Eurocentrist cultural hegemony but little analysis of the roots of amassed property and of protracted poverty, of paid and unpaid labor or paid and unpaid production, of legacies of inheritance, pedigrees of capital and the control of resources and trade as foundations for that hegemony. This project takes as a founding premise that postcolonial studies has paid scant attention to such economic flows; it aims to revisit sites of oppression well-documented in terms of theories of orientalism, alterity and racial and ethnic oppression so as to trace and highlight underlying financial genealogies, strategies of inequality, and literary narratives of exploitation more readily entertained by today’s econocracy.

Such an examination foregrounds the systems of consumption and exploitation that create and sustain socio-economic inequality and political disenfranchisement across the longue durée. The reconstruction of such accounts—a postcolonial epistemology of property and poverty—is also, ultimately, a history of political systems, educational systems, and the “location(s)” of culture. This project starts, therefore, also from the assumption that culture cannot be judiciously unpacked if extricated from the sources and distribution of capital. It reads colonialism as, first and foremost, an economic undertaking, viewing it intersectionally through historiographical, economic, racial and postcolonial frames. Valuing the critical contributions of subaltern historiographers, this project attends to the economic experiences, legacies and subjectivities associated with generating economic growth and dominance and producing economic poverty and powerlessness. Thus we acknowledge—rather than rejecting, as Vivek Chibber does—the essential tenets of Subaltern Studies while bringing them together with the polemic he offers in Postcolonial Theory and the Specter of Capital—his general contention, in Žižek’s words, that “postcolonial theory [has] ignored the larger context of capitalist relations.”

We propose, then, a postcolonial criticism that provincializes Europe and the U.S. (Chakrabarty 2007) by bringing a version of the economic analysis Chibber and Cleary posit together with the historical materialist perspectives of subaltern studies. The retrieval of historiographies of poverty and prosperity leads to an ethics touching the violence of capital and its proliferation or dearth and reveals the deafening resonances of its legacies. What might a postcolonial criticism look like that establishes a scholarly, intellectual and theoretical rationalization for reparations and reads empire through an economic-historical lens in order to evaluate the “cost(s)” of that structure and its economic aftereffects? The project aims to answer that question by unpacking genealogies of capital in/and the colonial encounter in locations across the globe.

We seek abstracts of no more than 1000 words by Sept. 30, 2017 and full chapters of 7000 – 8000 words by Dec. 30, 2017. The editors anticipate that this theme will generate a range of papers that cross the disciplines. Potential topics may include (but are not limited to):

 literary, economic, historical / historiographical, sociological, linguistic, or political science treatments
 perspectives of trade / national resources
 legacies and imperialism / inheritance and imperialism
 the economic other
 political security and insecurity, sustainability, security and colonial economic flows
 decolonizing capital
 academic histories or looks at education and cultural capital or comparative education
 reparations, broadly defined and most especially within contexts of modern empire
 the question of complicit science
 legacies of the East and West India Trading Companies
 memor(ies) and postcoloniality
 economic flows of diaspora and hybridity or traveling monies, colonial circuits
 the political economics of subalternity or postcolonial piracy, criminality, plunder
 economies of nation, nationalisms, national identity, of cosmopolitanism(s)
 the materiality of economic colonialism and/or postcolonial power relations
 re-engaging work of key postcolonial thinkers in terms of its relevance for/to postcolonial economies, or, more broadly, the contemporary intelligentsia and (the possibility of) materialist postcolonial interventions
 vicissitudes of “human rights” vis-à-vis wealth distribution
 property (intellectual, real), theft of, indebtedness for
 perspectives of media / new media

This collection is edited by Dr. Maureen Ruprecht Fadem (City University of New York) and Dr. Michael O’Sullivan (Chinese University of Hong Kong).

Abstracts and short CVs should be submitted by September 30, 2017 to and

CFP: McGill University’s IOWC Graduate Student Conference on Indian Ocean World History (Montreal, 20 October 2017)

For graduate student readers interested in the  history of the Indian Ocean world, see the following call for papers:

McGill University’s Indian Ocean World Centre (IOWC) welcomes submissions for its Graduate Conference on Indian Ocean World History on 20 October 2017. The IOWC is a McGill Research Centre dedicated to international collaborative study and inquiry, both maritime and littoral, of the Indian Ocean world–a macro-region running from eastern Africa east towards China, Japan and Australia.

We welcome papers from graduate students studying any aspect of history related to the Indian Ocean world, including, but not limited to slavery and abolition, bonded labour, and themes in economic history, human-environment interaction, religion, and culture.

Paper proposals should include:
Full name and contact information (including university)
Discipline and focus of research
Title and brief abstract (max. 400 words) detailing the subject, time period and disciplinary approach of study
The deadline for submissions is 10 June 2017. For inquiries and to submit a proposal, please contact Rebekah McCallum or Joseph Howard at Notification of acceptance will be conveyed by the end of June.

The registration fee, to be collected at the conference, is $25. Participants will be responsible for their own travel and accommodation expenses. Accepted conference papers will be considered for publication in the IOWC Graduate Working Paper Series and/or the Journal of Indian Ocean World Studies.

CFP: Transformations of the Urban: Global Perspectives on the History of Industrial Cities (Moscow, April, 18-21, 2018)

Readers interested in global urban histories should check out this recent call for papers for a conference to be hosted by the German Historical Institute in Moscow from April, 18-21, 2018:

The history of industrial cities is frequently told as a story of decline. At first glance, such a narrative seems obvious, since industrial cities are traditionally understood as places of coal and steal, iron, oil, and mass production. At least since the structural changes of the 1970s, industrial cities thus seem to be a phenomenon of the past. Accordingly and in accord with prominent diagnoses of an end of industrial labour, the prevailing historiography on industrial cities is predominantly concerned with processes of decline and deindustrialisation as well as reorientations and attempts at conversion.
In at least three respects, this seems to be problematic. First of all, these approaches give preference to the spectacular, which can be found more easily in decline and comeback than in persistence. Secondly, this entails an empirical imbalance, as the numerous examples of persisting industrial influence get out of sight. Thirdly, the story of rise, decline, and comeback follows a decidedly Western perspective, which blanks out countless examples beyond this narrow focus.
To counteract these problems, the conference will put an emphasis on two foci. First of all, we intend to scrutinise processes of transformation. Following social scientist Rolf Reißig, we understand transformation as the “emergence of the ‘new‘ within the ‘old‘” with particular reference to the contingencies and discontinuities of this process. In contrast to the more traditional concept from political science, which according to Wolfgang Merkel accentuates “fundamental change”, such an approach allows the description of different tempi and areas of change. Hence, the conference does not merely address fundamental processes of change in industrial cities but rather focuses on less regarded facets such as processes of adaptation as well as persistence and continuity.
Since neither processes of industrialisation nor commodity or resource flows stop at national borders, a global perspective seems necessary. We welcome comparative papers as well as those investigating entanglements and transnational processes of exchanges. It is the comparison of different regions, we argue, which differentiates the conception of an end of industrial cities and, at the same time, allows for an analysis of fundamental geographic shifts of their topology. We are also seeking papers interested in the global within the local, inquiring about the cities’ room for manoeuvre.
Against this background, we ask for papers on the following thematic fields

1) Self-Perceptions and their Mediatisation

While early 20th century cities of the so-called Western World proudly referred to themselves as ‘industrial cities‘, nowadays such a (self-)labelling has vanished almost entirely. Yet, the Indian city Jamshedpur still carries the nickname ‘Steel City‘ and the German city of Wolfsburg refers to itself as ‘Car City‘. These examples indicate that transformations of industrial cities vary geographically and temporally and that they could entail changing self-descriptions. In the perspective of Media History, analyses of the changing representations as well as the inter-relations between self- and public-image seem to be fruitful. In terms of transformations, it seems also promising to approach the images communicated from the vantage point of the topoi evoked, e.g. progress, certainty about the future, tradition, or local history.

2) Crises

Frequently, transformations of industrial cities are processed in the narrative schema of crisis. Instead of adopting this narrative uncritically and, hence, assuming a ‘real crisis‘, as diagnoses of “the Urban Crisis” do, perceptions of crisis should rather be understood as patterns of processing changes of the present. In terms of analysing processes of urban transformations, conflicting or congruent diagnoses of crisis can serve as analytical points of emergence for scrutinising specific constellations of agents or relationships of power.

3) Cultural Policies

For several industrial cities, cultural policies provide an almost traditional mode of coping with processes of transformation. Therefore, a closer look at the persistence and dynamics of these coping strategies seems worthwhile. Potential topics include the development of cultural infrastructures and urban cultural economies as well as city-specific alternatives or logjams. There are numerous and various examples such as reutilising former industrial sites, city festivals or art projects.

4) Urban Development and Urban Planning

If transformation processes are understood as the emergence of the new within the old, questions about urban development and urban planning are of crucial importance. Besides the differences in terms of urban development, e.g. specific restraints due to different political frameworks, similarities and parallels, such as similar structural deficits of industrial cities, are of particular interest. Furthermore, phenomena such as strategies of revitalisation and modernisation provide promising points of reference.

5) Spaces

Industrial cities are particular spatial constellations. Planned and unplanned, industrial, political, and private, converted and unused spaces: these and further spatialities of industrial cities are important objects for investigations of transformation processes. Branch canals or extensive industrial fallows are prime examples for specific spatial arrangements and their effects on synergies, frictions, and impossibilities in transformation processes.

We are seeking papers, which investigate processes of transformation and address one or more of these aspects. Comparative contributions and case studies are as welcome as papers concerned with transnational entanglements.

The conference languages will be German, English, and Russian.

To apply, send an abstract of approx. 300 words and a short CV to Joern Eiben ( by July 15, 2017.

CFP: African Diaspora beyond the Black Atlantic: Dynamics and Significance in the Latin American World and Elsewhere (Badagry, 22-23 August 2017)

For readers interested in the global history of the African diaspora, see this call for papers for a conference to be held at the Administrative Staff College of Nigeria (ASCON), Badagry, Lagos State, Nigeria from 22-23 August, 2017:

More often than not, the imagination of African Diaspora especially as it relates to Black Africa, resonates with theoretical and practical reflexes of the Anglo-American world. In the process, there is the tendency to consider the privileged experiences from the different parts of Europe and the Americas as homogenous and representative of the diverse realities of Black African Diaspora across the various regions of the world. According to Ben III Vinson, the question of the phrase “African Diaspora” came into prominence first in the 1950s and 60s when there was a strong need to find a suitable terminology for the advancement of Pan-Africanism which had evolved and continued to gather momentum from the turn of the 20th century. By prioritizing the concept of “double consciousness” from Du Bois to Fanon and Gilroy, the question of the African Diaspora incarnates with some sort of predictability that mostly reduces the concept to the dialectic of Black and White races. By homogenizing the struggle for survival and development of the African Diaspora from a mostly transatlantic slavery perspective in the Anglo-American world, this otherwise popular perspective excludes the peculiar yet constitutive paradigms of the Latin American world, and all that we stand to learn about the experiences that affirm difference in hemispheric realities. What is more, there is also the tendency to neglect the pre-transatlantic migrations and how they offer a strong claim for the foundational study of the African Diaspora.

Indeed, the Latin American world offers an interesting paradigm of African Diaspora and contrasts radically with the Anglo-American model precisely because rather than reducing relations to the canon of “double consciousness”, it provides a far more complex alternative in which the very essence of blackness itself is threatened. For the Latin American world therefore, questions around race relations provoke far more rigorous engagements because of the reality of “multivalent blackness”, which provokes quotidian epistemic discourses around multiple identities and what it means to negotiate relations and agency among natives, mestizos, whites and black. Related to the complex social relations is the perception that the history of racism in the Latin American world appears not to have been as extreme and hostile as found in the Anglo-American axis. The apparent political inclusion of the Black Diaspora in Latin America–constable as that is– is again another issue when compared to Anglo-American historical and contemporary dynamics. These realities in themselves inform the strong basis for the invention, sustenance and celebration of mestizaje in the Latin American world, which apparently threaten and discourage connection to Africa as primordial homeland, while thriving on the cultural logic of the space in-between.

Yet, the Latin American Diaspora remains strongly connected to African in ways far stronger than are ordinarily admitted. The connection is best described in Gilroy’s notion of “tradition” as that in which the Diaspora harks back to African just as Africa draws upon Diaspora cultural recourses. The question then may be asked, how does the central agency of culture facilitate an enduring interconnection between the Latin American Diaspora and the African homeland? Of course, the question generates other derivative ones around, say, the invention of musical traditions– from tango in Argentina samba and maxize in Brazil, danza in Porto Rico , ranchera in Mexico, son rumba and guaracha in Cuba (Peter Wade) — in the Latin American world. It also speaks to the question of religion, history, performance, anthropology, archaeology, visual art, linguistics, and dynamics of interdisciplinarity in the study of the Latin American Diaspora. In what ways, for instance, does the enthusiastic reception of Nollywood in Brazil challenge the reductionist stasis in the calibration of relations between Africa and Latin America Diaspora? From mainland Latin America to the Andes, how may we then engage the issues around relations between African and the Latin American Diaspora in historical and contemporary terms?

As is the practice, the Badagry Diaspora Festival singles out an icon of the African Diaspora for celebration. This year, the festival has selected a Latin American figure in person of Deoscóredes Maximiliano dos Santos, Mestre Didi Alapinni (1917-2013). The outstanding artist and scholar is remembered for his contribution to the affirmation of Africa and the African presence in Brazil and Latin American world in general. From seminal works like História de um terreiro nagô: crônica histórica; Yoruba tal qual se fala; and the Contos de nagô series, Mestre Didi extended the frontiers of knowledge on the heritage of African worldview as the bedrock of Afro-Brazilian and Afro-Latin cultural identity. His centenary thus offers a unique opportunity to privilege the Latin American Diaspora in the consolidation of the academic content of the festival.

Beyond the special focus on the Latin American Diaspora in the narrative, the conference welcomes submissions on the otherwise privileged Anglo-American Africa Diaspora as well as other African Diasporas: from the French canon in Europe and America, to the Pacific basin, to the Indian Ocean, and Asia. It is equally interested in the historical and contemporary dynamics of intra-African Diaspora, especially with respect to the frontier zones that evolved out of the dislocating consequences of the centuries-long aggression of transatlantic slavery. The conference welcomes engagement with the radical review and connotation of Africa and its Diaspora relations when the African Union (AU) declared the Diaspora as the continent’s “Sixth Region”. How has this problematized our understanding of Diaspora and the necessary intersections of transnationality with contemporary African Diaspora? How is the agency of the AU in the declaration symbolic of homeland agency? How again does the understanding trouble the normative conceptualization of nostalgia as an experience that strips homeland of agency? In what ways do questions of diaspora and transnationalism intersect and invite us to ponder the dynamics of return? These questions and more are proposed to frame discussion at the 17th edition of the Annual Badagry Diaspora Festival. Panel proposals and abstracts are welcome on issues around, but not limited to:

Latin American African Diaspora: history, culture, and tradition

Mestizaje and (dis)connectivity in relation to Africa

The biography, art and scholarship of Mestre Didi Dos Santos

The Black Atlantic and the enduring question of double consciousness

Minor(ity) African Diaspora and emerging perspectives

Intra-African Diaspora and frontier zones

Diaspora and the question of African development

Transnationalism and African development

Contemporary African and culture in Diaspora

Hemispheric interrelations among Diaspora groups

Cadences of return and mutual development in Africa and Diaspora

Pre-Atlantic African Diaspora and the question of mainstreaming

The languages of the conference and paper presentations are: English, French, Portuguese and Spanish.

Abstracts and panel proposals should be sent to Dr Senayon Olaoluwa at, Dr Sola Olorunyomi at, and Dr Felix Ayoh Omidire at, no later than May 31, 2017.

CFP: Sovereignty, Economy and the Global Histories of Natural Resources (University of Cambridge, 18-19 December 2017)

Readers interested in the global history of natural resources (and its connections to questions of sovereignty, law and the economy) will be interested in this call for papers for an international symposium. The symposium will be hosted at the University of Cambridge from 18-19 December 2017, and is sponsored by the International Research Award in Global History, Universities of Sydney, Basel, and Heidelberg. The call for papers offers more details:

Over the course of the nineteenth and twentieth century natural resources have given shape to the history of sovereignty, law, and commerce across the globe. The struggle to protect, own and extract natural resources has mobilized local authorities, national agencies and international bodies. The Standing Rock water protectors are perhaps most well-known recent example of such histories, but is certainly not the only one. From disputes over social and economic rights to dueling religious and economic understandings of resources and their value, things like carbon, gold and water have determined the lives of national and local communities.

This international symposium invites scholars to examine the history and political ecology of various natural resources —animal, vegetable, or mineral— in the modern era. It asks how natural resources such as carbon, air, and water became the subject of legal, environmental, and economic forces over the course of the nineteenth and twentieth century and how, in turn, these resources have themselves came to shape national and international histories? Papers that focus on the role of local actors, rather than solely international elites, that examine contested spaces and resources beyond the Western Hemisphere, and take an interdisciplinary approach to this global history of natural resources will be particularly welcomed.

Potential papers might address (though should not be limited to) the ways in which the political ecology of various natural resources has come to shape:

Border disputes, international territories and national sovereignty
Minority and religious rights
Movement and mobility of people, animals and microbes
Social and economic geographies and spaces
Cultural practices and institutions
Technical expertise and knowledge
The role of nongovernmental and economic agents in local and national contexts

Scholars interested in presenting a paper should send a brief abstract of 250-300 words and a CV by 15 June 2017, to Tehila Sasson ( Some travel and accommodation support is available, but presenters are encouraged to explore their own funding opportunities.

CFP: On Top of the World: Sizing Up Global History (Grand Rapids, Michigan, October 20-21, 2017)

As part of an explosion of recent work on the theory and practice of global history, the 2017 Great Lakes History Conference has issued a call for papers on the theme  “On Top of the World: Sizing Up Global History.” The conference is to be held at Grand Valley State University from October 20-21, 2017.

In recent years, historians embraced new approaches to world history that moved beyond traditional western Civilization models. The prolific expansion of empirical historical research about non-western regions enabled this transformation. However, much of this research remains concealed from the larger public. This conference proposes to explore the avenues that connect empirical historical research on global history and area studies to those who present it to the public, including teachers, journalists, digital humanists, archivists, and museum professionals. This conference also seeks to examine the ways that empirical research and global history and area studies inform contemporary political conversations. In essence, it contemplates the ways academic conversations move beyond pure research to public dissemination and political action.

To address these issues, our keynote speaker will be Michelle Moyd, Associate Professor in the Department of History and Associate Director of The Center for Research on Race and Ethnicity in Society at Indiana University Bloomington. Her research focuses on the social and cultural history of African soldiers in the First World War. She is the author of Violent Intermediaries: African Soldiers, Conquest, and Everyday Colonialism in German East Africa (Ohio University Press, 2014) and the soon-to-be-published Africa, Africans, and the First World War (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming). She also has written for The Guardian and the popular website Africa is a Country.

This conference will follow a workshop-oriented format. It invites workshop proposals and papers that address new empirical research on global history and area studies. It especially encourages workshop proposals that focus on the intersections of research, teaching, public dissemination, and activism. The latter could include workshops with round-table discussions on pedagogical devices, teaching methods, digital humanities, and the presentation of history in the media. Research workshop formats typically include pre-circulated papers that receive extended discussion among paper commentators and other fellow readers. Workshop size can vary. However, four core participants are recommended. Some funds may be available for workshop organizers to offset travel costs. Individual paper submissions will also be considered for inclusion in relevant workshops.

If you are interested in organizing a workshop, please send a workshop abstract of approximately 300 words and curriculum vitae by July 15, 2017 with attention to Dr. Michael Huner at: Please include your institutional affiliation and email address and list of other possible workshop participants with their email addresses and institutional affiliations. 200-word abstracts for individual paper submissions (with CV, email, and institutional affiliation of author) can also be sent to the email address listed above.

CFP: The Holocaust in the Borderlands: Interethnic Relations and the Dynamics of Violence in Occupied Eastern Europe (Munich, February 7-9, 2018)

For readers interested in transnational histories of the Holocaust, here’s a recent call for papers for an international workshop to be held at the Institute of Contemporary History in Munich from February 7-9, 2018:

The Holocaust, though initiated by the Third Reich, was by nature a transnational phenomenon: the majority of its victims came from outside Nazi Germany, and its bloodiest sites of genocide lay beyond Germany’s borders. During World War II, Europe’s contested multiethnic borderlands in particular saw unprecedented upsurges in violence against Jews, Roma, and other persecuted minorities. From the Baltic States to Transnistria to the Serbian Banat, Axis occupational authorities worked in conjunction with local populations to persecute, dispossess, deport, and murder millions. In this process, occupiers not only relied on pre-existing local ethnic and national movements and conflicts; they also spurred violence, which profoundly redefined notions of national, ethnic, and social belonging.

As recent research has shown, the Second World War, Nazi Germany’s occupational policies, and existing and shifting dynamics of local interethnic relations were crucial to the distinct unfolding of the Holocaust in different borderlands. This workshop sets out to explore this topic further and more systematically. It aims to bring together novel and critical insights on the borderlands of East, Central, and Southeastern Europe and the growing body of research on the dynamics of violence in the wider region. By placing the Shoah into larger contexts of different military occupations and interethnic conflicts during World War II, this workshop seeks to problematize the relationship between state structures and popular mobilization – perspectives “from above” and “from below” – in the unfolding of Holocaust violence. We are particularly interested in papers dealing with the status and role of ethnic Germans (“Volksdeutsche”) in relation to other groups.

What was the effect of shifting borders and/or preexisting loyalties on the dynamics of violence in the borderlands? How did the experience of violence and occupation reshape interethnic relations and other social relationships in these regions? Can patterns of behavior be identified across the borderlands of East, Central, and Southeastern Europe? Ultimately, this workshop aims at gathering an unprecedented range of regional, transnational, and multiscalar approaches to the Holocaust in East, Central, and Southeastern Europe in order to create a comparative basis for the study of the Holocaust under different occupational regimes, and explore the potential of a borderland approach to the study of the Holocaust.

Proposed research topics include, but are not limited to:

Interethnic relations and the rise of antisemitism in Eastern, Central, and Southeastern Europe’s borderlands during the interwar period and World War II
Definitions, theoretical and conceptual approaches to the study of ethnicity, interethnic relations, and borderlands
The specificity of multiethnic borderlands and the dynamics of (Holocaust) violence
Comparative perspectives on Holocaust violence in different borderland regions
The role of minorities such as the “Volksdeutsche” (ethnic Germans) in Nazi organizations, military formations (Wehrmacht, Waffen-SS), concentration camps, and as the perpetrators and bystanders of local antisemitic violence
Participation in Holocaust atrocities by non-German minorities; questions and conceptualizations of resistance/collaboration with Nazi authorities
Multiethnic societies under occupation from the perspective of so-called bystanders, perpetrators, and victims
Postwar relations between Jewish survivors and other minorities (German expellees, DPs, new/remaining borderland populations)
Memory of interethnic relations and postwar narratives of the Holocaust among (former) borderland inhabitants, and their relationship to national historiographies
Presentations should be approximately twenty minutes long. The language of the conference is English. The conference will take place in Munich, Germany. Travel and accommodation costs for invited participants will be paid for by the organizers.

Applicants should send a short biography (max. 200 words), as well as the title and abstract (no more than 350 words) of their paper to Katarina Kezeric ( by May 31, 2017. Invited participants will be notified of their acceptance by the end of July 2017.

CFP: Berkeley Global and International History (Big-H) Conference (Berkeley, September 2-3)

For our graduate student readers, please see this call for papers for the Fourth Berkeley International and Global History (Big-H) Graduate Student Conference, themed “The Contingency of Transmission: A symposium on transnational movements in ideas, people, and goods.”

Never has global history been as relevant, among both disciplines that study the global and fields of historical research. Even as the transmission of ideas and capital has reached new peaks, resurgent anxieties about the permeability of national boundaries have initiated profound policy changes regarding migration and international trade. These topics have also refreshed scholarly and popular debates that have raged for decades. As in the past, we may see a retrenchment of patterns in globalization that before seemed inexorable. This contingency of global integration only speaks to the need for historians to engage international dynamics with humility toward the power and specifics of change. We encourage submissions that address these issues from a variety of temporal and spatial perspectives.

The Fourth Big-H Conference will consist of panel discussions, running 20 minutes. Each presentation will be followed by a short reflections by a faculty commenter arranged by the conference organizers. Rather than a typical conference paper, we seek broad but concise overviews of dissertations-in-progress. While example, detail, and texture is of course welcome, the bulk of each presentation should focus on overall arguments and major scholarly interventions. We envision the Big-H conference as an opportunity for emerging scholars to engage a diverse audience of different methodological, geographic, and period specialties and ‘test drive’ their largest claims and interventions. Q & A will follow presentations and comments. Big-H will also include a roundtable discussion on teaching global history.

Papers may address a variety of themes, including but not limited to:
Medicine, Public Health, and Microbes
Capital, Development, and Multinational Corporations
Human Rights in Theory and Practice
Codifying and Enforcing the Law Globally
Diasporas throughout Time, from Beringia to the 1990s
Local Resistance to Centralizing and Global Forces
International & Regional Organizations
Globalization Before or After the State
Imposing Cartographic Order on Borderlands and Frontiers
Attempts to Control the Natural World and Environmental Impacts on Human Society
Transmission of Science and Knowledge across Borders
Violence and the Global Arms Trade
Migration, Refugees, and Human Trafficking

Graduate students and postdoctoral scholars who are interested in participating in the conference should submit a 350-word proposal and one-page curriculum vitae (in Word, RTF, or PDF format) to Presenters will also pre-circulate their paper drafts. We will not accept panel proposals. Proposals must be received by April 21, 2017, in order to be considered. Notification of acceptance will be made in early May. For additional information, please e-mail the conference organizers at

CFP: Global Decolonization Workshop: Concepts and Connections (Paris, 6-7 July)

From our friends at the School of Advanced Study, University of London and the Department of History, New York University, comes the Global Decolonization Workshop (GDW), a global forum for knowledge exchange the field of decolonization studies. The theme of the upcoming July 6-7 University of London in Paris workshop of the GDW is “Concepts and Connections.” The abstract explains more:

The fields of decolonization and postcolonial studies have hitherto been defined by a focus on the post-war dissolution of the modern empires of France and Britain. Consequently, the Cold War ‘last wave’ in Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean has been privileged. Meanwhile, the earlier, ‘first and second waves’ of decolonization in the Americas, Eastern and Southern Europe, Russia, and parts of the Middle East play little, if any role in most general historical accounts of decolonization. A symposium held at the University of London in March, 2015, however, has confirmed Latin America’s vanguard role in the global history of decolonization. The July Paris meeting of the GDW will explore and debate the connections among and key concepts animating the three waves of decolonization.

We seek papers that address any of the following:

  • Key concepts of independence and decolonization movements
  • Intellectual history of independence and decolonization leaders
  • Connections among empires before decolonization
  • History of inter-imperial and anti-colonial warfare
  • Connections between global, imperial and local political concepts
  • Historical narratives of decolonization in the various ‘waves’
  • Translation and traffic in colonial and anti-colonial discourses
  • Archival sources of decolonization studies
  • Memory of colonialism and decolonization (monuments, museums, etc.)

A 200-word abstract, paper title, and one-page biographical note should be submitted to Professor Philip Murphy ( or Dr. Mark Thurner ( by 5 May 2017.

CFP: Chronologics: Periodization in a Global Context (7-9 December 2017, Berlin)

For scholars interested in questions of historical periodization in a global context, see this call for papers for a conference to be held in Berlin in early December:

The Berlin-based Forum Transregionale Studien and the Max Weber Stiftung invite submissions for a three-day conference in Berlin on concepts of historical periodization in transregional perspective. The conference is convened by Thomas Maissen (Deutsches Historisches Institut Paris, DHIP), Barbara Mittler (Heidelberger Centrum für Transkulturelle Studien, HCTS), and Pierre Monnet (Institut franco-allemand de sciences historiques et sociales, Frankfurt am Main). The conference will feature a keynote lecture on December 7th and several topical panel sessions on December 8th and 9th. It is arranged in cooperation with the Einstein Center Chronoi and the Graduate School Global Intellectual History at the Freie Universität Berlin and the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.


Epochal divisions and terminologies such as “antiquity”, “baroque,” the “classical age,” the “renaissance,” or “postmodernity,” the “long 19th!” or “short 20th” centuries are more than mere tools used pragmatically to arrange school curricula or museum collections. In most disciplines based on historical methods the use of these terminologies carries particular imaginations and meanings for the discursive construction of nations and communities. Many contemporary categories and periodisations have their roots in European teleologies, religious or historical traditions and thus are closely linked to particular power relations. As part of the colonial encounter they have been translated into new “temporal authenticities” in Africa, Asia and the Americas, as well as in Europe. German historians in particular, in C.H. Williams’ ironic description, “have an industry they call ‘Periodisierung’ and they take it very seriously. (…) Periodisation, this splitting up of time into neatly balanced divisions is, after all, a very arbitrary proceeding and should not be looked upon as permanent.” In producing and reproducing periodisations, historians structure possible narratives of temporality, they somehow “take up ownership of the past,” (Janet L. Nelson) imposing particular “regimes of historicity” (François Hartog). Accordingly, periodisations are never inert or innocent, indeed, they have been interpreted as a “theft of History” (Jack Goody).

The aim of this conference is to uncover some of the dynamics behind particular cultural and historical uses of periodisation schemes, as concepts for ordering the past, and thus to reconsider these terminologies “devised to think the world” (Sebastian Conrad). Periodisations are culturally determined. They beg for systematic comparison in order to identify the contextual specificity and contingency of particular understandings of particular historical epochs. An interdisciplinary and transregional perspective allows for a reconsideration of the (non-)transferability of historical periodisations and the possibility to work out categories of historical analysis that go beyond nation-bound interpretative patterns. The conference aims to show where and how periodisation reveals clear cultural, social, and national leanings and predispositions. We will discuss the making of these chronologics, the variable systems and morphologies it takes, e.g. religious, spatial and other models (e.g. linear, spiral, circular). We will focus on different agents and modes involved in the making of periodisation schemes (institutions ranging from the university to the school or the museum but also genres such as the documentary, the historical novel or local communities). We will discuss how European attempts at structuring the History, and along with them, particular chronotypes have been translated worldwide into universal and/or national, and communitarian models. At the same time, we will also focus on alternative, complementary and or silenced models of periodisation and epoch-making. By bringing together scholars with an expertise in different regions of the world, we hope to better understand the importance of temporality in the making of global history.

Application Procedure

This call is open to emerging as well as established scholars on all levels. Abstracts should address themselves to some of the following issues and questions:

1. The Making of Periodisation Schemes

2. Morphologies and Models of Periodisation

3. Axial Times and Epochal Breaks

4. Time and Power: Periodisation in a Global Context

5. Popular and Pedagogical Dimensions of Periodisation

As the institutions involved have French, German and English as working languages, papers can be held in all of these three languages while the working language at the conference will be English. Abstracts should not exceed 300 words for paper presentations of 20-25 minutes. Please submit, along with a brief biographical statement, to by April 30, 2017. Selection of papers will take place in May, applicants will be informed by the end of May. The Forum Transregionale Studien will cover participants’ travel and accommodation expenses. Participants invited for presentation will have a version of their paper published online at “Trafo – Blog for Transregional Research” and may have the option to publish their papers in an edited print/open access format as well.