REMINDER: CFP Deadline for Re-imagining Ends of Empires Study Half Day

Deadline for paper submissions: Friday 11th December 2015

The study of the ends of empires and decolonisation has generally focused on the passage from empire to nation-states. Whether this process was violent or relatively peaceful, it has generally been presented as historically inevitable. This is particularly the case with France’s African empire which is often studied in terms of its attempt and failure to hold on at all costs before ultimately giving up (Algeria) or its ‘successful’ negotiation of a smooth transfer of power to a Westernised African elite (West Africa). As Todd Shepard underlined in 2006 in The Invention of Decolonisation, by 1959-60, decolonisation in France was presented as part of the “tide of history” with little explanation or discussion of what this actually meant. He underlines that this historical determinism has largely been reproduced in academic literature. At the same time, an emerging trend has been to re-examine established accounts of the passage of empires to nation-states (Cooper, 2014; Hansen and Jonsson, 2014; Deighton, 2006). With an increase in studies of global and transnational history, scholars are increasingly questioning the inevitability of how (post) empire was reimagined by the late colonial state.

This study day at the University of Portsmouth on March 2nd 2016 aims to expand on these new approaches to studying the ends of empire. It seeks to bring together scholars who are currently working on or are interested in re-examining the avenues that colonial powers (such as Britain, France, Portugal and Belgium) considered in Africa and Asia at the end of the colonial period, including those paths not taken. Researchers, particularly postgraduate and post-doctoral, from different disciplines are invited to submit proposals, in English, dealing with the different ways in which ends of empire were imagined. Papers with a comparative and/or connected dimension are particularly welcome and may be based on (but are not restricted to) the following topics:

  • Differing understandings of meanings of decolonisation
  • Late colonial projects and state building
  • Alternatives to the nation-state model in a post-colonial context
  • Reassessments of concepts and practices of ‘neo-colonialism’ (for example ‘Françafrique’, ‘Eurafrique’ etc.)
  • The role of colonial and ‘on the ground’ actors and the international context

Please send abstracts of no more than 300 words to:

Kelsey Suggitt –

Final deadline for abstract submissions – Friday 11th December 2015

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