Research Seminar

Organised by Prof. Pieter M. Judson, Prof Lucy Riall and Dr Andrés Vicent Fanconi (Max Weber Fellow)
Registration code: HEC-RS-EMPIR-20

  • Thursday 14 January (17:10‐19:00), sala degli Stemmi
  • Thursdays 21 January (17:10‐19:00), sala del Consiglio
  • Thursday 28 January (17:10‐19:00), sala degli Stemmi
  • Friday 29 January (11:00‐13:00), sala del Consiglio
  • Friday 5 February (9:00‐18:00), sala del Consiglio
  • Saturday 6 February (9:00‐13:00), on zoom

Starts on 14 January 2021
Admin. Assistant: Alba Parrini

Seminar description

This seminar investigates practices of empire in different sites around the world, and it explores the ways in which those practices shaped and influenced societies and politics both inside and outside of Europe. In particular, we investigate a range of a-typical practitioners of what is sometimes called ‘informal Empire’: individuals from the realms of business, science, or organized religion, for example, whose undertakings shaped Europe’s global relations, albeit often unintentionally. At the same time, we also examine how local peoples engaged with these same practices and principles of empire in order to pursue their own particular ends.

We do not focus primarily on definitions of empires or of colonial rule, although we do discuss the character and legacies of both. Instead we emphasize the many varieties of colonialism and the many possible, sometimes even hidden, layers of imperial rule in different global contexts. Thus, our approach examines a range of imperial practices and seeks to challenge the implicit hierarchy of modern European colonialism that makes France and Britain into emblematic cases from which other, allegedly less successful empires, diverged. In short, we aim to replace existing typologies of empire by exploring more diverse sites and practitioners of empire.



14 January, 17:10-19:00 What is an Empire?         

  • S. Conrad. ‘Rethinking German Colonialism in a Global Age, "The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History", 41/4, 2013, 543-566. 
  • D. Ghosh, ‘Another set of Imperial turns, "The American Historical Review", 117/3, 2012, 772-793.

21 January, 17:10-19:00 Informal Empire

  • J. Gallagher and R. Robinson, "The Imperialism of Free Trade", The Economic History Review 6/1, 1953, 1-15.
  • A. Phillips and J. C. Sharman, "Outsourcing Empire. How Company- States made the Modern World", Princeton, 2020, ch.4.
  • D. Todd, "A Velvet Empire. French informal Imperialism in the Nineteenth Century", Princeton, introduction [nb. This book is not published yet but the introduction can be downloaded and read from the publishers’ website].

28 January, 17:10-19:00 Imperial Knowledge

  • E. Grimmer-Solem, "Learning Empires. Globalisation and the German Quest for World Status, 1875-1919", Cambridge, 2019, ch.1.
  • K. Manjapra, ‘The semiperipheral hand: middle-class service professionals of Imperial capitalism in C. Dejung, D. Motadel and J. Osterhammel (eds), The Global Bourgeoise. The Rise of the Middle Classes in the Age of Empire (Princeton, 2019), pp.184-204

29 January, 11:00-13:00 Settler Colonialism

  • P. Wolfe, ‘Settler colonialism and the elimination of the native,’ Journal of Genocide Research, 8/4, 2006, pp.387-409 

A Debate (in Postcolonial Studies, December 2020):

  • L. Veracini, “Is Settler Colonial Studies Even Useful?”
  • A. Te Punga Somerville (Te Atiawa/Taranaki), “OMG settler colonial studies: response to Lorenzo Veracini ‘Is Settler Colonial Studies Even Useful?’”
  • J. Kehaulani Kauanui, “False dilemmas and settler colonial studies: response to Lorenzo Veracini ‘Is Settler Colonial Studies Even Useful?’”
  • R. Warrior, “Settler sidekick solidarity?: response to Lorenzo Veracini ‘Is Settler Colonial Studies Even Useful?’”

5 February,  09:00 - 18:00 Workshop on Settler Colonialism

9:00-11:00 Scientists, Settlers, and Empire

  • M. Flandreau, Anthropologists in the Stock Exchange. A Financial History of Victorian Science (Chicago, 2016), ch.4 and ch.5  
  • S. Gänger, Relics of the Past. The Collecting and Studying of Pre- Colombian Antiquities in Peru and Chile, 1837-1911 (Cambridge, 2014), ch.3

A Primary Source

  • *V. Pérez Rosales, Times gone by. Memoirs of a Man of Action, Oxford, 2003 [1910], chs.20-23         

 11:30-13:00 Borderless Empire?

  • E. Azuma, In Search of our Frontier: Japanese America and Settler Colonialism in the Construction of Japan’s Borderless Empire (Oakland, 2019), chs. 1 and 2

 14:00-15:45 Agents of Settlement

  • P. Judson, Guardians of the Nation. Activists on the Language Frontiers of Imperial Austria (Cambridge MA, 2006), chapter 4. 
  • M. Gobat, Empire by Invitation. William Walker and Manifest Destiny in Central America, Cambridge Mass. 2018, chs. 1, 4 and 5

 16:15-18:00 Agriculture and Improvement

  •  J. R. Fischer, Cattle Colonialism. An Environmental History of the Conquest of California and Hawai’i, Chapel Hill NC, 2015, ch.6
  •  *D. Blackbourn, The Conquest of Nature. Water, Landscape, and the Making of Modern Germany, Chapter 5

6 February, 9:00-10:45  (Post)-Colonial Heritage

  • J. Levi Barnard, ‘The Bison and the Cow: Food, Empire, Extinction,’ American Quarterly, 72/2, 2020, 377-401
  • M. E. García, ‘Devouring the nation: gastronomy and the settler-colonial sublime in Peru,’ Latin American and Caribbean Ethnic Studies, December 2020

11:15-13:00 The Museum

 Presentations by Lucia Piccioni and Daphné Budasz/Markus Wurzer

 13:30 Lunch




Page last updated on 02 February 2021

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