All posts by Christopher Szabla

CFP: Fighters in a Foreign Conflict, 1848-1999 (Paris, June 2018)

With increasing attention being paid to the role of foreign volunteer fighters in recent armed conflicts around the world – whether fighting alongside Kurdish peshmerga or the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, Ukrainian forces in the Donbass, or the Taliban and Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan – the Center for History at Sciences Po proposes to examine the past and evolution of the phenomenon at a conference to be held in Paris on 28 June 2018. The event, the organizers write, intends to encompass a broad spectrum of conflicts across a long time period – aiming “to…compare…the experiences in different countries and during different wars from the Revolutions of 1848 to the Yugoslav Wars.”

Among the themes they hope to address: motivations for volunteering, volunteers’ training, their reception in host militaries and societies, their use and performance in battle, the logistical questions posed by linguistic and cultural differences volunteers may have possessed vis-a-vis their hosts, and their treatment by or in the postwar societies that emerged from the conflicts in which volunteers participated.

Contributions should be related to these questions and themes, among others, which are presented in more detail here. However, the conference is also interested in presentations concerning noncombatants such as volunteer nurses, ambulance drivers, and journalists. (Scholars working on Hemingway appear encouraged to apply.) Proposals from all disciplines related to the study of war are welcome, should be between 200 and 300 words, and be sent to by 31 December 2017. The conference language will be English, and limited funding is available for those traveling from other continents.

CFP: Survey, State, Map – Symposium of the International Society for the History of the Map (Maine, June 2018)

The International Society for the History of the Map will be hosting its 2018 symposium at the Osher Map Library and Smith Center for Cartographic Education at the University of Southern Maine in Portland on 21-23 June of that year. The symposium welcomes “contributions on any aspect of the production, circulation, consumption, and curation of early maps and mapping;” “early” maps including all that are no longer used for their intended purposes, and “maps” including those found in literary, artistic, or popular works. The symposium especially encourages proposals that address two or more of the symposium’s three keywords (survey, state, and map), including thematic mapping of either natural or social features (or both), census mapping, topographical mapping, boundary mapping, intelligence mapping, among other related topics. An expanded call for papers with more detail is available on the Osher Map Library website.

Proposals must be original and not related to published work. They may be individual papers, poster presentations, or roundtable discussions – the organizers especially enocurage innovative panel structures. Abstracts of 250-400 words, along with accompanying information (name, email, title, institution) should be sent, along with any questions, to by 15 January 2018. Papers intended for a panel presentation should be submitted together. USM’s Matthew Edney, well known for his contributions to the history of imperial mapping, is the point of contact for the event.

CFP: A Period of Global Revolutions – Mid-1900s to Mid-1920s (Bochum, May 2018)

Scholars from the Ruhr University of Bochum and the University of Bielefeld in Germany are organizing a workshop for both “PhDs” and “early postdocs” centered on an interesting new periodization: an early twentieth century “age of revolutions,” stretching from the middle of the first decade of the century (encompassing, presumably, events such as the 1905 Russian Revolution and 1908 Ottoman, or “Young Turk” Revolution) to the mid-1920s (including the revolutionary ferment of the immediate post-First World War era). The workshop also aims to break free from the national or even regional narratives from within which these revolutions are typically seen and embrace the transnational turn in considering how they influenced one another. Going further, it seeks to interrogate whether placing these events in dialogue changes our understanding of whether some should count as “revolutions” at all – or as other forms of social and/or political unrest.

Among the more specific questions the event hopes to address: whether its periodization makes sense as an endpoint for a realization of the hopes and dreams of the proletariat of earlier decades/centuries, or as a starting point for the struggles of the twentieth century (the workshop is subtitled “foreshadowing the 20th century or ending a long revolutionary tradition?”), to what extent revolutionary movements competed against other social and cultural movements, and how different historical methodologies (social history, cultural history, urban history, or global history) could enter into dialogue to help understand this period and its upheavals.

The workshop will be held on 24 May 2018 at the Institute for Social Movements in Bochum. Proposals of up to 1,000 words may be sent to both Prof. Dr. Stefan Berger ( and Prof. Dr. Klaus Weinhauer ( by no later than 31 December 2017. Travel and accommodations funding may be available, but the organizers cannot yet confirm. Applicants will be informed of the organizers’ decision by no later than the end of January.

New and Noteworthy Works in Global Urban History


The website of the Global Urban History Project (itself worthy of exploration in full) has begun a new series on new and noteworthy works (books and otherwise) written by its members in the field. Among the most interesting of those featured in the inaugural entry: Coll Thrush’s Indigenous London: Native Travelers at the Heart of Empire, a five-century history of indigenous peoples of Britain’s imperial territories who passed through and lived in the empire’s principal metropolis, and Joseph Ben Prestel’s Emotional Cities: Debates on Urban Change in Berlin and Cairo, 1860-1910, which transcends the perceived dissimilarity of urban histories in Europe and the Middle East to present a united history of emotional reaction to changes taking place in both the German and Egyptian capitals. Prestel also previewed his work in a blog post for the site last month.

CFP: The Paris Peace Conference of 1919 and the Challenge of a New World Order (Paris, June 2019)

A century ago today, the end of the carnage unfolding between the trenches of the Western Front of the First World War was scarcely imaginable. But so momentous were the consequences for subsequent world history of the eventual end of the conflict – the Versailles and other treaties that emerged from the Paris Peace Conference, and the movements that sought to influence them – that organizers are already mobilizing for a “major international conference” on the subject in the very city where the post-WWI order was shaped in 1919.

Image result for versailles
The Hall of Mirrors at the Palace of Versailles, among the main sites of the Paris Peace Conference in 1919 / Image:

To be convened under the aegis of the Institut historique allemand (IHA)/Deutsches Historisches Institut Paris (DHIP), LABEX EHNE, and the Commission d’histoire des relations internationales/Commission for the History of International Relations, “[t]he purpose of this event is to re-examine the history of the Peace Conference through a thematic focus on the different approaches to order in world politics in the aftermath of the First World War.” The organizers further specify:

Continue reading

CFP: Europe Between Migrations, Decolonization, and Integration (Florence, January 2018)

The Società italiana per lo studio della storia contemporanea (SISSCO, the Italian Society for the Study of Contemporary History) has been holding a stimulating series of seminars linking the processes of decolonization, postcolonial migration to Europe, and European unity and integration. The series, known as “Europe between migrations, decolonization and integration (1945-1992)” kicked off in Forli in March 2017. A second seminar will now be held in Florence – amid the Historical Archives of the European Union, hosed at the European University Institute. Titled “Mobility and Migrations in Europe: Perception and Representation,” the organizers invite scholars of all levels to submit:

proposals about the ways in which migrants and migrations from inside and outside Europe have been perceived and represented (through discourses or images) by media, national and international institutions, political parties, associations, educational institution. Special consideration will be given to proposals focused on the connections between these representations and both the processes of creation of the European Community and of re-creation of the European nations after the disappearing of empires.

The seminar will be held on 25-26 January, specifically. Presentation proposals of no more than 300 words along with a brief biographical note are due to by 15 November 2017, with notifications of acceptance by 25 November.  Proposals – and presentations – may be made in either Italian or English. Further information is available at H-Borderlands.

CFP: Historians Without Borders – Writing Histories of International Organizations (Leiden, March 2018)

The European Research Council project “Rethinking Disability” has organized a conference meant to bring together early career researchers working on international organizations together to discuss the methodological challenges of integrating their work on the subject with various forms of global history. “Historians Without Borders: Writing Histories of International Organizations” will take place in Leiden from 22-23 March 2018 and include a master class, keynote speeches, and roundtable discussions. Confirmed speakers include Davide Rodogno of the Graduate Institute Geneva, who will run the event’s master class.

The conference seeks to move beyond “methodological nationalism,” by which it means the increasing balkanization of subfields beyond national histories into transnational, world, and global histories, among others:

In order to do this, the workshop will focus on the history of international organizations (IOs), as they are “extremely stimulating heuristic objects for historians of globalism in that they represent a true laboratory of the accords and tensions at work between the international, national, and local scenes and frames of reference” (Kott, 2011, p. 449). Therefore, writing their history automatically compels us to think about methodologies of doing ‘history beyond borders’. Although they automatically force historians to think about international connections, it is equally important to consider the continuing role of local or national scales within international organizations. Research objects in this regard can encompass both the main intergovernmental organizations (IOs) – such as the League of Nations, the UN or the NATO – and the vast field of International Non-Governmental Organizations (INGOs), spanning a diverse range of causes from the environment (Greenpeace), over human rights (Amnesty International), to humanitarianism (Médecins sans frontières).

The conference is, specifically, seeking contributions that meditate on the methodological divides between different subspecies of global, world, and transnational histories – and how each of these relate to international organizations.

An abstract of 500 words, along with a brief CV, is due for submission to by 13 November 2017, and decisions will be rendered by 20 November. Questions may be addressed to the same email. A short draft of the intended presentation paper will be expected two weeks prior to the event. Acceptance of a paper will also imply acceptance into the master class.

CFP: Britain and the World Conference (Exeter, June 2018)

After its tenth annual conference in Austin last year, the British Scholar Society invites submissions to its eleventh Britain and the World Conference, to be held at the University of Exeter from 21 to 23 June 2018. The conference will concern, as always, interactions with the “British world” – including the British Empire and wider interactions between Britain and other points of the globe – from the seventeenth century to the present. Publishers from Edinburgh University Press and Palgrave Macmillan will be on hand to discuss the society’s journal and book series, including a commissioning editor open to discussing publishing plans.

The conference will accept both individual twenty minute papers and complete panel submissions of three papers each. In addition to paper abstracts, panels should be accompanied by 100-300 word descriptions of their respective themes. Participants may span the entire range from graduate students to senior scholars.

Submissions should be received by 15 December 2017 to, with all information in the body of an email (no attachments) in the following order: name, affiliation, email, paper title, abstract, keywords. Decisions on submissions will be rendered by 8 January 2018. Further information is available in the official call for papers, and further questions may be submitted to

The Great Divergence and the Marketplace of Ideas: Joel Mokyr’s “Culture of Growth”

The Economist has recently published a review of Joel Mokyr‘s new book, A Culture of Growth: The Origins of the Modern Economy – a new contribution to the debate over “the great divergence” between the European and Asian economies, and how Europe’s wealth and power began to overshadow India’s and China’s by the nineteenth century. Mokyr, an economic historian at Northwestern University, focuses on the role of ideas in bolstering European productivity in the early modern period – a consequence of the opening up of its marketplace of ideas from one regulated by religious dogma to one that fostered innovation. Why did such a free market take hold in Europe, rather than Asia? Geography, Mokyr claims, played a role: the continent’s fragmentation into a number of states allowed thinkers to sell their ideas elsewhere when their home countries made them feel unwelcome.

The magazine gently criticizes Mokyr for omitting the historiographical context for his arguments; his is not, it argues, “for someone looking for a general introduction to the great divergence,” and makes no attempt to strengthen its argument by taking on competing theories – such as, presumably, Kenneth Pomeranz’s seminal Great Divergence: China, Europe, and the Making of the Modern World Economy (2000), which focused not on the role of ideas, but material factors (for example, the ease of extracting coal, and the development of colonial trade) to answer the question of why an industrial economy rose first in Britain rather than China. “Those familiar with the historiography will have their own grumbles,” the review acknowledges, but finds its own greatest frustration in how “untestable” Mokyr’s vague contentions about the “greatness” of European intellectual figures’ contribution to the world of ideas is – how exactly these figures set the stage for economic superiority.

Connected Anticolonialisms: The Sultanate of Mysore and the American Revolution

Surprisingly little research focuses on how the mid to late eighteenth century rise of the British East India Company’s empire in India coincided with the disintegration of British control over what became the United States. The few exceptions, moreover – most notably P.J. Marshall’s Making and Unmaking of Empires: Britain, India, and America c.1750-1783 – also tend to focus on connecting those episodes through a British lens.

Blake Smith adds a new angle to the examination of these simultaneous developments by connecting them through relatively novel perspectives: that of the French Empire, which supported both the American and Indian states that resisted British colonial encroachment during the period, as well as that of the relationship between two polities fighting off metropolitan power: the American colonies and the Indian Sultanate of Mysore. In a recent article for Aeon, the Northwestern University and EHESS (Paris) PhD candidate, whose work focuses on the French East India Company, describes both the American colonists and the Mysorean resistance as “members of a global coalition funded by the French government, which saw both uprisings as a chance to humble Britain” in the wake of French defeat in the Seven Years’ War.

This was not lost on the Americans, Smith writes. They had cheered the growth of British power in India and the goods it brought to their ports, but lamented that the empire prevented them from trading there of their own accord – the Boston Tea Party was, in part, a protest not just against the high prices the East India Company’s monopoly brought with it, but Americans’ inability to launch their own competition. Naturally, they became immersed in the idea of independent American and Indian states alike – and lionized Mysore’s leaders, Haider Ali and his son Tipu Sultan – until the south Indian state’s ultimate defeat by Britain was sealed. French support for global, anticolonial resistance had plunged it into debt, and funding for Mysore decreased dramatically, despite attempts to revive the relationship on both sides. Tipu Sultan’s state fell in 1799, and soon after the new United States became too immersed in its own colonization of the North American interior to thrill to anticolonial activities elsewhere.