Monthly Archives: October 2017

Bordering Empire, Crossing Frontiers: Exile, Extraction and Expediters

by Manjeet Baruah (Jawaharlal Nehru University) , Jasmin Daam (Universität Kassel) & James McDougall (Oxford) “Bordering Empire, Crossing Frontiers”, our panel, addressed the issue of empire’s spatialities. Empires have often been conceived of as primarily spatial configurations due to their obvious geographical extent. These three talks, however, questioned the assumption of imperial spaces’ unity. Their overall argument might be subsumed under James McDougall’s observation that “unity in diversity” is not necessarily the most defining feature of empire. His talk on deportation and migration in the French colonial empire demonstrated that in the French case, empire did not simply mean the unification of a huge landmass, although imperial propaganda routinely highlighted this image. To understand the French empire’s spatial structure, McDougall instead focused on citizens’ and subjects’ actual movements, concluding that such mobilities constituted an imperial space which differed significantly from geographical mappings of empire. The patterns of movement and circulation – both voluntary and coerced – of imperial subjects suggested a maritime rather than a land empire. Moreover, the space of empire itself was produced less by the extent of an idealised sovereignty, which was often more theoretical than effective, than by these patterns of movement and of embodied experience. […]

‘Not Soul but Stomach (and Stench)’

by Dr. Sarah Frank, University of the Free State Our panel on ‘Plumbing in the Metropole: Time, Memory and the Senses’ drew the Everyday Empires conference towards its close. The panel delved into the visceral, often unpleasant lived experiences of colonial subjects across two different time-periods and empires. The papers, “A Colony in the Metropole? Daily Experiences of French Colonial Soldiers Interned in Vichy France” by Dr. Sarah Frank (University of the Free State) and “The Filth of the Abode of Felicity: Sewers, Stinks, and the Late Ottoman Empire” by Dr. Michael Talbot (University of Greenwich) drew methodologically on labour history, among other approaches, to explore the textures and odours of imperial subjects’ varied quotidian experiences in locations close to the centre of imperial authority. Labour history in both cases proved generative of deep, strong and nuanced case studies, connecting the local scale to the national to the international. In the Ottoman case, local officials in Istanbul petitioned municipal and central government to build sewers to overcome the threat posed by sewage and stinks, while workers in the area around the naval arsenal went on strike against the risk of cholera. Michael Talbot showed how workers’ everyday experience of foul […]

Reflecting upon Everyday Empires

by Dr. Nathan Cardon and Simon Jackson, conference organisers (University of Birmingham) with Josh Allen (Past & Present)  Over the summer of 2017; Nathan Cardon and Simon Jackson, the co-organisers of the Everyday Empires conference, edited a series of blog posts that reflected upon, responded to and rifted off; the intellectual conversations sparked at the two day event. Highly ambitious in terms of its global sweep and desire to make legible the ways in which the process of imperialism in the modern era wove its way into the material fabric of everyday social existence. Past & Present was very pleased to support the conference, speaking as it does to exciting new ways of approaching questions that have exercised the journal ever since its foundation over sixty years ago. To this end we were delighted when the co-organisers approached us to jointly host-alongside hosting on their own platform-a series of rapid responses by panellists and other attendees to the themes under discussion at the conference. Generally taking the form of panel reports serving to make accessible in concise and engaging form the ongoing work being undertaken by those who spoke, whilst also forming a permanent record of the event, the blogs published as […]