CFP: Other Things: Materiality and the Empire, 1600-1850

Interdisciplinary one-day workshop 28 May 2020 at Metsätalo Building, room 12, University of Helsinki, Finland. Keynote speaker is Amanda Vickery (Queen Mary, University of London).

Materiality and the history of things has recently come under increased scholarly scrutiny with the so-called material turn in historical research, with increasing emphasis being placed on the ways in which the material world around us—the nature, our built environment, the things we own—shapes our identity and conditions the possibilities of our agency. Similarly, recent enquiries into European history have emphasised the extent to which Europe—its identity, material culture, and financial success—was made through its colonial subjugation of overseas Others. Investigation of materiality has proved a fruitful path into untangling European colonialism, which was underpinned by materiality in different ways.

This interdisciplinary one-day workshop examines the importance of matter in colonial encounters and to European self-understanding. Papers are invited to engage with material culture and materiality, understood in a broad sense, from a colonial and imperial perspective. Especially considerations of European or colonized bodies as matter, colonized spaces as material agents, and neo-materialist interpretations of the empire, colonial knowledge, and agency are welcome; other suggested topics include the global circulation of things, the empire at home, or things-as-identities. Matter not only propelled the European colonizing project, but it fundamentally changed and shaped it while getting changed and shaped itself in the process. European imperial identities, culture, science, economy, ecology, and society all revolved around defining, moulding and (ab)using matter in its different forms, but matter also produced, limited and redefined the parametres of European ways of thinking, acting, and being.

Those interested to present a 20-minute paper at the workshop are kindly requested to send an abstract of no more than 500 words (in .rtf, .docx or .pdf format) to by February 28, 2020. Please send with the abstract your name, affiliation, contact information and field of specialization. Notices of acceptance will be sent by March 15, 2020. The workshop is organized in collaboration with the interdisciplinary Colonial Spaces, Colonial Power (COSCOP) research network and Helsinki Centre for Intellectual History.

Contact and more information:

Dr Soile Ylivuori