Lauren Benton’s 2009 book, A Search for Sovereignty, introduced mountains as terrains of power often as uneven, relative to the polities that claimed them, as their angled peaks: contested spaces often beyond the fully encompassing reach of states and empires. A two-day conference at the University of Cambridge this summer now seeks to take the exploration of mountains in global history – and related disciplines – much further. “Global Mountains” endeavors to push jagged geographies from the periphery of scholars’ perspectives to the center, acknowledging the extent to which they are “increasingly recognised as providing valuable lenses through which to examine political, social, and aesthetic issues” – as well as questions and problems beyond human activities and histories.
Moving beyond area studies and seeking to encompass examples of mountainous regions around the world, the conference will center on themes such as “the importance of verticality in the history of scientific practice, the reciprocal effects of mountain environments and human cultures, and the roles of mountains as borderlands between states and empires.” It is particularly concerned with theorizing mountains as domains as “normal” as their topological counterparts such as plains and oceans – rather than as exceptions from these more frequent spaces and subjects of inquiry.
The conference, to be held on 5-6 July, welcomes researchers from all stages, including graduate students and ECRs, from any related discipline. An abstract of 300 words or less and a current CV must be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org by 15 January 2018; accepted speakers will be asked to provide precirculated papers with a view to publication.