Rethinking the Modern: Colonialism, Empire and Slavery

In recent times, a number of academics and commentators have sought to offer a revisionist history of colonialism that sees it as something that wasn’t as bad as some others make out, that actually made the modern world as we now know it and so was essentially a good thing, or was something to be understood simply in terms of networks of circulation and distribution. The sense of colonialism as a wretched episode of human history that continues to distort the life chances of those unfortunate enough to live under its legacies is slowly being eroded. Similar revisions are underway to our understandings of modern transatlantic slavery and its continuing legacies. We believe that the historical processes of imperialism, colonialism and slavery shaped, and continue to shape, our common world in ways which have been and continue to be problematic. This conference seeks to confront head-on these new revisionist histories and provide the space for a more adequate understanding of these processes and their legacies as they continue into today.


The questions that this conference seeks to address include the following:

■Why colonialism was a really bad thing … as was slavery …
■In what ways do the standard forms of knowledge production in the academy undermine the lived thought and experience of the colonized and their descendents and, by extension, impoverish our understandings of the human condition?
■What are the ways in which we can ‘recover’ lost histories? What does it mean for ‘history’ to be lost and can lost histories ever be recovered?
■How do we address the current fashion for regarding colonialism as simply a network of practices?
■What kinds of relationships exist between modernity, nationalism and minorities?
■Can there be a ‘global history’ outside of a history of colonialism, imperialism, and slavery?
■To what extent is the rehabilitation of (old) empire associated with the legitimisation of new forms of imperialism?
■How are minorities identified, constructed, and governed within modernity?

■Imperial Enlightenment and Critical Thought
■Coloniality / Modernity
■The Place of Minorities in Modernity and Coloniality
■Recovering Forgotten Histories
■Decolonial Thought and Other Philosophies
■Slavery and its Legacies
■Is Global History / Sociology Possible?
■Migration and Empire: Voluntary and Forced
■Colonial Desires and Eastern Empires
■Reassessing Anti-Colonial and Liberation Movements
■From Empire to Neo-Imperialism
■The Colonial Context of the European Integration Project, Past and Present


Abstracts should be no more than 300 words and should be sent as an attachment to the following address:

The deadline for receipt of abstracts is Friday 25th February 2011.


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