CFP: The Worlds of 1848 (Paris, December 2018)

This conference on the global dimensions of the revolutions of 1848 invites scholars to submit papers considering the plurality of revolutionary “worlds” that may have obtained in the years 1846-1851. The conference is suitable for scholars working on topics in global and imperial history; the history of the revolutions of 1848; the history of migration and mobility; slavery; republicanism, cosmopolitanism, and utopia; and gender. Proposals must be submitted by 15 December, 2017. 

More below:

It may seem as if there is nothing left to say about the 1848 Revolutions and the ‘Springtime of the Peoples’. Their chronologies and discontinuities, hopes, struggles, and ebbs and flows are all well known. The transnational dimension of the “most European of 19th-century revolutions” has been underlined many a time and its medium-term geopolitical effects studied. Yet, while the Age of Revolutions (1770-1840) has increasingly been considered on a global scale, and colonial and informal domination of Europe expanded during the first half of the century, the global dimension of 1848 remains relatively unknown. 

In a seminal article, Miles Taylor showed that while the United Kingdom, excluding Ireland, was itself relatively unaffected by the 1848 revolutionary wave, repercussions were deeply felt throughout its immense colonial empire, notably in terms of fiscality and forced migration. The importance given to the abolition of slavery in the 1848 Revolutions has moreover been reassessed in recent historiography, going beyond its local effects in the Caribbean. Repercussions of the 1848 Revolutions throughout the Americas have likewise been reevaluated, with an occasional focus on clearly circumscribed geographical areas such as Pernambuco in Brazil. Christopher Bayly and Jürgen Osterhammel have also opened up stimulating perspectives on a more global scale.

Repercussions and effects, appropriation and reuse remain, however, largely to be established. This International Symposium, organized by the Société d’histoire de la Révolution de 1848 founded in 1904, aims to take stock regarding the colonial, imperial and global dimensions of the revolutionary moment surrounding 1848, in the diversity of its expressions and connections. Unearthing and identifying the plurality of the “worlds of 1848” is therefore the objective of this event, which coincides with the 170th anniversary of the 1848 Revolutions. As part of widening the scope, the intended chronological timespan will cover the period from 1846 to 1851.

Several topics merit further consideration:

  • First, the study of connections between the various European and non-European territories (or between territories outside Europe), based on the international and intercontinental movements of people, ideas, lines of thought, associational practices, symbols and images.   
  • Thorough and detailed studies of a social, political and cultural nature, dealing with insurrectional and protest experiences in non-European territories, are also welcomed, in order to grasp the multiple fragmentation underway at the time.
  • It is likewise of interest to reveal global configurations conducive to explaining the common rationales for revolutionary movements outside Europe (economic crisis, growing empire of the state, aspirations for popular sovereignty, abolitionism, etc.).
  • Finally, consideration will be given to times of revolutionary ebbfailures and the wave of repression which, on occasion, mobilized other territories (such as Algeria for France). The issue of Europe’s possible blindness in the face of such an imperial and global dimension may also be examined.    

While the territories lending themselves most readily to study seem to be located within the Atlantic area (in particular around the Caribbean, Latin American republics and Brazil), the aim is to explore a broader framework, in order to analyze even the weakest of connections and, more particularly, offer wider possibilities of comparison by including Africa (north, west, south), the Ottoman Empire, the Mediterranean Region, South-East Asia, as well as Australia and New Zealand.

In the same way as that of the revolutionary movements concerned, the diversity of the topics envisaged is wide and includes:

  • fiscality and related resistance;
  • abolition of slavery and its effects, in particular development of the coolie trade and indentured servitude;
  • movements of exiles and migrants, as well as of international armed volunteers;
  • the cosmopolitical dimension of the struggles (surrounding the “Universal Republic”);
  • the specific issue of political projects (diversity in republicanism, utopian thought, concrete exposure to agrarian colonies, etc.);
  • experience of the suffrage movement, civic guards and associationism;
  • redesigns of the idea of freedom;
  • the issue of gender, feminism and masculinities;
  • the range of actions undertaken (barricades, rituals, images in action, conspiracies, etc.);
  • social fears and oppressive violence.

Papers may be presented in French or English. Proposals must be submitted by 15 December 2017; they should give details of the proposed contribution (roughly 5 to 6 000 characters) and include a biobibliography. Proposals will be examined by the Scientific Committee and a reply given around 15 January 2018. Travel expenses will not be covered by the organizers, except in certain specific cases.

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