Myriad Materialities is a two-day conference organised by the Colonial Ports and Global History (CPAGH) Network at TORCH, The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities, and the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. It will be held at the Ethnologisches Museum Berlin on 10 and 11 July 2020.
This interdisciplinary conference draws attention to the materialities ‘beyond the marine’ of colonial ports and port cities, with a view to re/assessing colonial contact and its longer-term impact, and the concomitant circulation of goods and ideas across the centuries and continents. Situating these peopled encounters and penetrating their initial interface will shed new light on materiality and its mutability, notably the conditions by which the negotiation of identities and inscription of subjectivities are imbricated with different ecologies and infrastructures.
Our conference thus moves toward a new global writing of colonial ports and port cities, exploring their myriad materialities through three intersecting perspectives. First is the perspective of gender. We invite participants to reflect on socially constructed underpinnings of masculinity and femininity, their constant state of flux and the creation of contested liminal spaces beyond binary frameworks. How can these nuances offer new readings of gender through the material cultures of food, entertainment and education, for example?
Second is the perspective of race. Our conference will examine how colonial ports and port cities functioned as key sites not only of problematic racial hierarchies, but also of global interactions and the resistance and destabilisation of those hierarchies. We invite a critical engagement with notions of whiteness and their perpetuated discourses, also highlighting the role, contributions and knowledge of non-white actors and agents.
Third is the perspective of class. This sees a renewed attention to issues of social inequality and the wider systemic questions of institutionalization and Eurocentrism, whilst weaving a more intricate understanding of colonial presences and social structures. In what ways and to what extent can there be more equitable ways of engaging with unheard communities? We envisage socially-minded critiques and/or frameworks with which to explore related concerns, notably distributive justice, archives from below and their potentiality for articulating indigenous and other neglected voices.
To this end, we invite researchers and practitioners to bring hitherto discrete methods and practices, including but not limited to global history, musicology, social anthropology, art history and literary studies into closer interdisciplinary dialogue. At a deeper level, we hope to foster a deeper understanding of colonial ports and port cities as spaces defined and redefined by their myriad materialities.
We are delighted to have two distinguished keynote speakers. Emily Clark is the Clement Chambers Benenson Professor in American Colonial History at Tulane University. She specializes in early American and Atlantic world history. Her research interests include race, gender, religion and historical memory. Jin-Ah Kim is Professor at the College of Liberal Arts at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, and Honorary Professor at the Institute of Musicology and Media Studies at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. Her research interests include transcultural processes and global history from East Asian and ethnological perspectives.
Interested parties are asked to send an abstract of 250–400 words and a brief (1–2 page) CV to firstname.lastname@example.org. Proposals are due 27 March 2020 by 11:59 pm GMT. We strongly encourage submissions from researchers and practitioners from underrepresented backgrounds. Co-authored papers (with no more than two speakers) are also welcome.
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