Constituting Boundaries: Identities, Polities, and Colonial and Postcolonial Constitution-Making, 1776-2019

Date / time
Date(s) - 20 April - 21 April
8:30 am - 6:30 pm


Constitutions draw boundaries of belonging. The act of making a constitution makes a claim for the existence of a political community, and their texts define the terms of citizenship and of political participation in that community, including and excluding individuals based on race, gender, sexuality, disability, class, and religion.

Constitution-making — successful or otherwise — is also a common feature of moments of social and political upheaval in modern global history. Some constitution-makers have eradicated slavery, thrown off empire, and legislated for social justice, others have consolidated imperial dominion and codified racial discrimination and exploitation.

This conference, supported by TORCH, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Global History of Capitalism, and the Quill Project at Pembroke College, will bring together scholars with a common interest in the process and effects of constitution-making in colonial and postcolonial polities across the world since the American Revolution.

Included will be papers covering questions of identity and constitutions relating to: US States, Native America, settler colonialism, British India, post-Apartheid South Africa, Soviet empire building, post-colonial South America, and the 20th century Middle East.There will also be a keynote lecture from Linda Colley, on ‘Warfare and the Global Spread of Constitutions: An Argument’.

Places are available via registration only. Fees are £55 for two days, with the option to book a place at the conference dinner and accommodation within Pembroke College (both at extra cost). Lunch and refreshments are provided.

To register please go to the University of Oxford Store:

Registration closes 25th March 2020.

Location: Pembroke College, St Aldates, Oxford OX1 1DW