The British Empire, we are told, was founded on difference – between metropole and periphery, citizen and subject, self and other. This conference aims to contest and complicate these Manichean divides. By embracing the intermediate and indeterminate, we aim to excavate scenarios, stories and forms of subjectivity located in the spaces inbetween the now well worn binaries of coloniser and colonised, oppressor and oppressed. By seeking out places, people and realms of possibility outside conventional frames of reference, the intention is to instigate fresh conversations around the human encounter with empire – and the manner by which it is told.
Topics to be addressed include the history of specific groups whose race, class or gender inflected their encounter with the colonial mainstream. These might include people of ‘mixed race’, those who have been socially or discursively marginalised and those who encountered the colonial ‘self’ and ‘other’ in ways that diverged from the prescribed colonial ‘norm’ – the deviant, the renegade, the mentally ill. They might also include people who, while cast as members of ‘subject races’, engaged with empire in more complex ways than the binary of victim or resistor suggests – as well as those who moved between categories and locales – the journeyman, the migrant, the imposter.
With its accent on the counter-narrative, the conference also seeks to probe at the ways in which encounters with empire have been constructed and re-told and we encourage proposals that help to displace the ordered trajectory of expansion and contraction, rise and fall. Historians working on all regions of the British imperial world from 1815 to the present day are welcome – as well as those that investigate those oceanic and littoral spaces perhaps most irresistibly ‘in-between’.
Speakers already confirmed include: Harald Fischer-Tiné (Zurich), Kirsten McKenzie (Sydney), Malcolm Campbell (Auckland), Margot Finn (Warwick), Nigel Penn (Cape Town) and Norman Etherington (Western Australia).
To submit a proposal please email an abstract of up to 300 words and a 1-page CV to firstname.lastname@example.org by 16 February 2012. Proposals from postgraduates and early career scholars are particularly welcome. To encourage their participation the registration fee will be waived for post-graduate presenters.
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