Temporal Entanglements: Appropriating Empires in the Global South, 1450 – 1700 – deadline 14 December 2019

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Date / time
Date(s) - 11 June - 12 June
All day


‘Temporal Entanglements’: Appropriating Empires in the Global South, 1450 – 1700

11th / 12th June 2020, Queen Mary, University of London

Edmond Smith (Manchester) and David Veevers (Queen Mary, University of London)

The advent of Global History over the past two decades has done much to revitalise and reimagine the study of empire in the early modern period. By situating their research within a global context, historians have not only moved attention away from Eurocentric perspectives of Western ‘expansion’ across the rest of the world, but have in the process increasingly privileged the role of non-European imperial systems and cultures in both global and local histories of empire. Perhaps the most rewarding achievement of these new directions has been to uncover an early modern world that was intensely interconnected, networked, and often integrative, with empires and imperial agents weaving a web of mutual exchange and shared experiences, in which imperial borders proved malleable and overlapping. As one historian has recently concluded, empires in the early modern period formed interlocking parts of a broader global regime, allowing them to imitate, borrow and learn from one another.

However, historians have almost strictly focused on linear, spatial and contemporary connections between empires in their understanding of the early modern world. Much less attention has been paid to the temporal connective tissue which bound early modern empires into a far deeper, richer and complex imperial lineage. These ‘temporal entanglements’, as we term them, not only provided the foundation for new empires, but continued to shape their development across time in powerful ways, more so perhaps than current imperial connections. Although most historians acknowledge that empires did not manifest suddenly nor develop upon a tabula rasa, they still largely eschew tracing the powerful ideas, influences, traditions and models of empire that new imperial regimes inherited, adopted, emulated and, in some circumstances, appropriated. Imperial heritages created a messy and entangled foundation for empire that could firmly root new imperial structures and hierarchies into local landscapes, or compromise and undermine them. We believe the study of ‘temporal entanglements’ will provide a new perspective on the interaction of empires not just across space, but perhaps more importantly across time. From the consolidating Qing dynasty in China, to the Akan adoption of Malian practices in West Africa, and even the Spanish integration of the Aztec elite, new imperial powers had to incorporate pre-existing imperial structures or tap into older imperial traditions and forms of legitimacy to succeed.

We welcome individual papers and panels on a wide range of imperial themes and geographic regions in the ‘Global South’ across the period 1450 to 1700.

To submit a proposal please send an abstract (c. 300 words) and short biography to Edmond Smith and David Veevers at temporalentanglements2020@gmail.com by 14th December 2019. There will be small travel bursaries for postgraduate and early career researchers speaking at this event.