CfP: Culture, Things and Empire: Virtual Seminar Series II

‘Culture, Things and Empire’ (CTE) is a Virtual Seminar Series focused on understanding colonial history through the lens of material culture. Following the success of the first series of CTE seminars, which invited researchers from across the globe to engage in interdisciplinary discussions about race, gender, class, and materiality within the fields of imperial and global studies, we are re-launching another series of seminars beginning in March 2022. In this new series we hope to return to some of our previous conversations with a specific focus on object-based research that illuminates the global and colonial context of visual and material culture, and the international circulation of objects and commodities.

In recent years, movements such as Rhodes Must Fall and Decolonise this Place have joined long-running campaigns by indigenous activists to put increasing pressure on museums and other heritage institutions to publicly reckon with their colonial pasts. While this has often led to results that many find unsatisfying, including the explanatory plaque for the Cecil Rhodes statue at Oriel College Oxford, some institutions that have undertaken efforts to examine their colonial legacies, such as the National Trust, have been met with resistance from those who believe the past is past. This new iteration of the CTE Seminar Series will ask what can objects reveal about their global and colonial contexts? How can a focus on material heritage force us to reckon with difficult histories and how do we address these histories within the museum context? What role should academics and museum practitioners play in the pursuit to reckon with imperial legacies?

The CTE Virtual Seminar Series invites researchers, primarily PhD candidates, postdoctoral and early-career researchers, as well as museum practitioners, to submit abstracts to present their research. We aim to host six seminars from March to July 2022, with two 20-minute papers per seminar, leaving time for a 20-minute question and answer, discussion and feedback space. We encourage applications from researchers working in all disciplines within the humanities, particularly those working on visual and material culture, global trade and commodities. Proposals that cover any historical era or geographical place are welcome, we just ask that applicants present within the given timeframe and are willing to contribute to the discussion space and the other activities taking place throughout the series.
We will create a Figshare repository project to foster a CTE community of researchers and practitioners, and to allow the development of a paper for publication.

If you would like to present at one of the seminars, please submit your name, email address, abstract (max. 300 words), and a short biography (max. 100 words) to the CTE team at by 5pm on Monday 17 January 2022.
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