ZiF Workshop

Video-Conference: Conceptualising Intercultural Contact in the Early British Empire

Date: 21 October 2021
Convenor: Marcus Hartner (Bielefeld, GER)

Over the past two decades questions of intercultural contact and transnational exchange have reached central stage in early modern studies. In the wake of the general academic success story of postcolonialism, the humanities have witnessed a veritable explosion in the number of academic works exploring the early modern period and its emerging Western empires with a view to questions concerning the global entanglements of trade, politics, ideology and the closely interrelated (post)colonial history of Western ideas about European identity, race, and imperialism. On the one hand, this development has led to a profusion of new (historical) insights and re-evaluations. On the other hand, it has created a bewildering multitude of competing scholarly concepts, (theoretical) approaches, and terminology which have yet failed to consolidate into a more manageable set of complementary theoretical tools. The conference sets out to discuss this situation and addresses the inherent conceptual tensions between different schools of research on a methodological and (meta)theoretical level. It turns to the example of the early British Empire, as the academic study of this 'emerging' global player prototypically encapsulates the conceptual and historiographic tensions at the heart of current research into early modern intercultural contact. By mapping, contextualising and evaluating current concepts, approaches, and paradigms from an interdisciplinary perspective, the conference aims to work towards conceptual and terminological consolidation and intends to provide the initial step in the prospective project of publishing a collaborative Handbook or Companion to Early Modern Intercultural Contact.

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