Thinking the Empire Whole
Professor Steven Pincus
Thomas E. Donnelly Professor of British History, University of Chicago
The history of the British Empire to 1784 has been hopelessly fractured. Each bit of the Empire is discussed separately, the binary relationship between proto-nations and the imperial metropole. This was not how folks in the seventeenth and eighteenth century experienced their world. They thought and wrote about their empire as a whole. This empire was shaped by institutions and riven by debates about how best to run an empire. While some innovative scholars have recently deployed the paradigm of “settler colonialism” to attempt to reconnect and compare similar phenomena, this paradigm is insufficient because it marginalizes the imperial state, narrows the range of political economic debate, and homogenizes both the settler and indigenous experience. By thinking the empire whole it is possible to reinterpret seminal moments like the imperial crisis of the 1760s–1780s.
Location: Archway 3, 5:30pm, Wednesday 15 August, 2018
Professor Charlotte Macdonald from Victoria University drew a large crowd to the Centre’s second Global Dunedin lecture at Toitū Settlers Museum today. Charlotte brought Dunedin into the larger picture of the global circulation of soldiers and their belongings that stretched between Britain, India and the rest of the Empire. Her wide-ranging talk included the 70th Regiment who were transferred from India (where they had fought during the Indian Rebellion) to Auckland in 1861. While some stayed in the North Island and fought in the Waikato campaign, one contingent was transferred to Dunedin where they established themselves on what eventually became the Arthur St School. Soon after gold had been discovered in Central Otago, the contingent helped keep the peace and good order until they left in 1863. Charlotte’s research comes out of her Marsden-funded project, Soliders of Empire: Garrison and Empire in the 19th Century. The talk was followed by a lively question time. Many thanks to Charlotte for her rich and engaging lecture.
Dr. Hugh Morrison, with support from the Centre for Research on Colonial Culture, will be hosting a 2-day symposium on 24 & 25 August at the Hocken Collections on the histories and experiences of children and young people. The Call for Papers is below:
Unpicking the Tapestry: Children & Young People in British Colonial Contexts
Children and young people were ubiquitous and significant players on the stage of national and colonial formation, yet this remains a significant gap in the history and historiography of British world colonial societies like Aotearoa New Zealand. Therefore an exclusive focus on the historical place of children and young people in comparative colonial contexts is timely in terms of further development; both in the New Zealand context and that of the wider British world. Such discussion can inform a better historical understanding that is locally, nationally, and transnationally configured.
This symposium is sponsored by the Centre for Research on Colonial Culture at the University of Otago, New Zealand. It aims to bring together scholars (from New Zealand and beyond) who are interested in a range of aspects of colonial children and young people under the rubric of ‘unpicking the tapestry’. If colonialism is the overall tapestry holding together children’s and young people’s lives, then what is revealed when we begin picking away at the individual strands of this tapestry? In particular the symposium is interested in addressing a number of key questions which include: What does it mean to talk about ‘colonial childhoods or adolescence’ or to think about children and young people in relation to colonialism? What colonial sites were significant or influential for children’s and young people’s lives, and in what colonial sites were children influential? To what extent were children and young people constrained by boundaries or moved fluidly across boundaries (eg. gender, race or ethnicity, nation, class, religion), and to what effect? What are the sources for excavating and interpreting colonial childhoods? What are the gaps and silences? How do we negotiate these? In what ways might a comparative approach (across colonial societies) expand or limit our understanding of colonial childhoods and adolescence? What are the significant challenges and opportunities in this field of academic enquiry? These are some of the questions we wish to explore further over two days of keynote address, paper presentations and round-table discussions.
The keynote speaker will be Canadian historian Professor Kristine Alexander, who holds the Canada Research Chair in Child and Youth Studies at the University of Lethbridge, Alberta. She will be joined in round-table discussions by education historian Professor Helen May (College of Education, University of Otago) and one further person to be confirmed. Up to a further 16 paper presentations are anticipated in plenary session form (half hour sessions per paper).
Paper proposals should be sent by email to Dr Hugh Morrison (email@example.com) in the form of a 300 word (maximum) abstract, accompanied by a paragraph giving academic or professional background by Tuesday 31 March, 2015. Accepted papers will be notified by Friday 24 April at the latest. There will be no registration/symposium costs for presenters, but travel and accommodation costs will need to be individually paid for. It is anticipated that symposium papers will be published as an edited book collection or special journal issue.
Mark your diaries! Prof. Tony Ballantyne, Director of the Centre for Research on Culture, is giving a research talk titled “Moving Texts: Humanitarian Narratives and the British Empire in the 1820s and 1830s” as part of the Department of History and Art History’s Research Seminar Series. Tony’s talk will take place on March 26th in Burns 5 (Arts Building, University of Otago) and begins at 3.30.