The USC-Huntington Early Modern Studies Institute, The Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West, and the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture invite proposals for papers to be presented at a conference on Permanence and the Built Environment of the Pacific Basin 1700-1820. This meeting, to be held at the University of Southern California on April 17-18, 2009, will bring together scholars who study early modern construction and structures, cityscape, and the diverse landscapes of the western coasts and hinterlands of the Americas, the Pacific Islands, Australia, New Zealand, and East Asian port cities, areas greatly affected in these years by global trade, creolization, indigenous revolts, the break-up of empires, and natural disasters.
Conference Objectives. What eighteenth century and early nineteenth century societies bordering the Pacific considered to be permanent architecturally, what they constructed, and how they dealt with the erasure and destruction of their built environment is the focus of the conference.
• Did the veneration of long lasting, fixed-in-place structures increase in this period? Did conflicts between colonizer/creole and indigenous populations influence ideas about the built environment and the permanence of structures?
• Did building designed for durability increase during the period? Was the distinction of public versus private buildings important in terms of permanence? What promoted investment in buildings and infrastructure improvements such as roads and how was it affected by objectives of empires and localities as well as by warfare? Did construction innovations spread from one part of the Pacific basin to another, given the limited migration across the ocean? How did the nature and availability of building materials, the introduction of new products and designs, the scarcity or abundance of certain items, and access to skilled and unskilled labor influence construction?
• What role did climate and natural disasters play in remaking the built environment in the early modern period? Did their impact lessen over time or in certain locales by 1820 due to new understandings of natural history and the success of protective responses such as building codes, insurance, fire brigades, and public works projects?
Submitting a Proposal
Proposals should be approximately 500 words and submitted electronically, along with a short c.v., to email@example.com, or in hard copy to Pacific Basin Built Environment Conference, USC-Huntington Early Modern Studies Institute, University of Southern California SOS 153, Los Angeles, CA 90089-0034, by June 30, 2008. The conference committee will entertain proposals from scholars, regardless of discipline, whose research relates to the objectives described above. We hope to have papers that offer a good geographic mix and do not over-represent any region or area. Transpacific treatments are especially encouraged. We also seek a diversity of research designs from a variety of literary, quantitative, architectural, artistic, and archaeological perspectives. Papers will be pre-circulated, requiring authors to finish their presentations several weeks before the conference convenes. Expenses of program participants will be covered. Following the conference, the intent is to publish a volume. Direct further questions to Carole Shammas at firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail at the Department of History, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 90089-0034.
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