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Department of History

Call for papers | Commodities and Environments in Early Modern Global Asia

The ERC-funded project CAPASIA is accepting abstracts from scholars at all career stages, including early career, for the conference 'Commodities and Environments in Early Modern Global Asia, 1400-1800'.

20 November 2023

CAPASIA_Call for papers_23

The international conference 'Commodities and Environments in Early Modern Global Asia, 1400–1800', organised in the framework of the ERC-funded project CAPASIA The Asian Origins of Global Capitalism, will take place at the European University Institute in Florence, on 13–15 November 2024. Keynotes will be delivered by Professors Jakobina Arch (Whitman College) and Sujit Sivasundaram (Cambridge University).

The conference will explore the relationship between environments and commodities in early modern Global Asia between 1400 and 1800. It will investigate the environmental consequences in these regions of the extraction, production, and trade in commodities, aiming to integrate multiple historiographies which have sometimes operated in mutual isolation (material culture, environmental history, history of science).

Papers can approach the conference's themes from a variety of different angles. Contributions can focus, for example, on one or more of the following areas of research:

  • Knowledge of the environment. What sort of 'knowledge' of these environments was produced during the early modern period? To what extent did visual depictions, surveying and mapmaking projects, and geographical knowledge help foster commodity extraction, exploitation, and trade?
  • Perceptions and imaginaries regarding the environments of Asia and the Indian Ocean World. To what extent did different representational forms condition the way various actors sought to transform, manipulate, develop, and commodify these environments? Did these representations foster a political economy of 'improvement' of nature?
  • Ecological imperialism. What forms did ecological imperialism take and who were the actors involved in the wider commodification of nature? What commodities were developed and traded? How did the manipulation and transfer of crops and cultures unfold geographically and historically? To what extent did these processes alter the environments of Global Asia? In what ways did local actors and local environments react to or resist these processes?
  • Urban environments. To what extent did the long-distance trade in commodities transform urban environments in the regions under scrutiny? What was the impact of the development of a 'factory' system on the environments of the cities and ports?

The deadline for submitting an abstract is 20 February 2024.

For more information and to submit an abstract, visit the conference's webpage.

Last update: 20 February 2024

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