It is entirely conventional to say that the American Civil War transformed citizenship. Yet the nature and implications of this process, stretching from the 1850s to the 1870s and beyond, have yet to be fully explored. How, why, when, and where did the transformation take place? What were its limitations as well as its advances? How were legal changes connected to cultural developments and social conflicts? Were there significant international ramifications? Such questions will form the subject of a conference at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, September 27-28, 2013, for which paper proposals are now being solicited.
Citizenship was transformed most visibly with the incorporation of African American men, and with the new, explicitly male definition of national citizenship contained in the Fourteenth Amendment. But even before the Reconstruction amendments, the war itself had begun to unsettle American citizenship. In both the Union and the Confederacy, the exigencies of war caused government to make new demands upon the governed—including women, African Americans, and immigrants as well as white male citizens—while material hardships intensified the people’s expectations of their governments. Wartime policies such as conscription signaled new definitions of the relationship between individual and government. This is not the simple story of an already-fixed model of citizenship expanding to include new constituencies. Rather, the Civil War era saw the emergence of new forms of political belonging; of new ideas about the nature of allegiance; of deeply unsettling challenges to the basic frameworks of American politics and society. The very concept of citizenship was being transformed, not just in legal terms but in wide-ranging social, cultural, and political ways as well. The conference will cover the entire Civil War era, broadly defined--not only the war years.
Speakers will include Professors Laura Edwards (Duke), Susan-Mary Grant (Newcastle), and Stephanie McCurry (Pennsylvania). Paper proposals (max. 500 words) should be accompanied by a brief CV and should be submitted to Paul Quigley (Paul.Quigley@ed.ac.uk) by February 1, 2013. All presenters will be asked to submit written papers in advance of the conference, and the papers will be considered for publication in an edited volume.
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