Pierre du Bois Annual Conference 2022: Modern Transimperial and Interimperial Histories: forms, questions, prospects (The Graduate Institute Geneva, 12-14 May 2022)

The scholarly context for the Pierre du Bois Annual Conference 2022 is a fascinating development in the discipline of history in the last decade: the rising interest in trans- and interimperial histories. These build on studies showing that a single empire’s metropole and colonies need to be empirically and conceptually integrated. In the first decade of the 21 st century, such more contextualized and decentered histories of empire started evolving into trans- and interimperial histories proper. Inspired by an earlier turn to transnational and global histories, respective historians have been critiquing a deeply rooted and ultimately nationally-biased tendency, by many historians of empire, to focus empirical research and even conceptual conclusions on one single empire. The rise of trans- and interimperial histories crystallized by the 2010s―though it was, one may say, predated by older studies of non-European modern empires. While methodologically dissimilar to present trans- and interimperial studies, these studies quasi by necessity paid considerable attention to (often unequal) relationships especially with modern European and American empires.

The fundamental objective of the present conference is to take stock of this fascinating, partly old though mainly new field of historical inquiry as it regards the modern period; to bring together people who work on diverse trans- and interimperial themes, approaches, and geographical areas; and to chart possible future research synergies, prospects, and trajectories.

To this effect, the conference, which will feature a keynote by a preeminent scholar of the Japanese Empire, Louise Young, brings to the Graduate Institute in Geneva about forty participants whose studies involve the Belgian, British, Qing Chinese, French, German, Habsburg, Qajar Iranian, Italian, Japanese, Ottoman, Portuguese, Russian, and US-American empires, and who will speak on themes ranging from methodological and historiographical reflections to regions, labor, economy, settlers and agriculture, war and violence, culture, institutions and knowledge, race, law, and nation(alism)s.





CYRUS SCHAYEGH, Geneva Graduate Institute / IRINA DU BOIS, Pierre du Bois Foundation


LOUISE YOUNG, University of Wisconsin-Madison: Now You See It, Now You Don’t: Changing Sightlines on the Japanese Empire


NADIN HEÉ, Osaka University: Materiality, Space, and Time in Transimperial Histories

VÉRONIQUE DIMIER, Université Libre de Bruxelles: From Colonial to Post-Colonial Comparisons

PAUL KRAMER, Vanderbilt University: The Prospects of Inter-Imperial History: The Case of the Modern United States in the World

13:15–15:00 PANEL 2 – REGIONS

NICOLE CUUNJIENG ABOITIZ, Cambridge University: The Overlapping ‘Regional’ and ‘Transimperial’ at the Turn of the Twentieth Century in Southeast Asia

ANNE-ISABELLE RICHARD, Leiden University: Interwar European Cooperation, Global, Transimperial, Regional Approaches?

ALEXEY MILLER, St. Petersburg University: Competition, Cooperation, Restraint and Interconnectedness in a Macro-System of Continental Empires

HARALD FISCHER-TINÉ, ETH Zurich: Clash of Empires or Changing of the Guard? American Influence and Involvement in British India c. 1900–1940

15:30–17:15 PANEL 3 – ECONOMY

MARC-WILLIAM PALEN, University of Exeter: Economic ideologies and Transimperialism: Friedrich List’s National System (1841) as Case Study

MORITZ VON BRESCIUS, Harvard University: Ficus Elastica: The Global Pathways of a Failed Plantation Crop

ULRIKE VON HIRSCHHAUSEN, University of Rostock: Niches of Semi-coloniality: Yu Xiaqing in Shanghai 1880–1930

JIAJIA LIU, Geneva Graduate Institute: Financial Capitalism on the Periphery: The Shanghai Stock Market Bubble of 1910

FRIDAY 13 MAY 2022


M’HAMED OUALDI, Sciences Po Paris: What the Demise of Slavery in Modern North Africa Tells Us about Transimperial Histories in the Modern Mediterranean

ALEXANDER KEESE, Université de Genève: The Years When Everything Seemed Possible: The Second World War in Sub-Saharan Africa as an Inter-imperial Laboratory in Exploitation, 1940–45

CHRISTOF DEJUNG, University of Bern: Spinning the Wheels of Commerce: Mercantile Elites and the Making of Global Markets


PETER LAVELLE, Temple University: Overseas Labor Migration and the Chinese Colonial Imagination

MARTIN DUSINBERRE, University of Zurich: Reconciling Japanese-Indigenous Histories in the Imperial Pacific World

MONA BIELING, Geneva Graduate Institute: Hebrew University’s Botanical Gardens: a Source in Scientific Knowledge Creation in Mandatory Palestine

13:15–15:00 PANEL 6 – WAR AND VIOLENCE

ALEXANDER MORRISON, University of Oxford: ‘Agir à l’anglaise’ – Britain, France and Russia in the Imperial Mirror, 1814–1914

VLADIMIR HAMED-TROYANSKY, University of California, Santa Barbara: Migration and Violence in the Russo-Ottoman Borderlands

DANIEL HEDINGER, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München: The Second World War: A Transimperial History?

MARTIN THOMAS, University of Exeter: Insurgent Partners? Imperialist Networks of Influence in 1960s Algeria, Biafra, and Portuguese Africa

15:30–17:00 PANEL 7 – RACE

ULRIKE LINDNER, Universität zu Köln: Racist Thought as Basic Element of Co-operation between Fin-de-siècle Empires: Scope and Limits

PATRICK BERNHARD, University of Oslo: Libya in Poland and Palestine: Fascism’s Imperial Biopolitics and Its International Imprint

EILEEN RYAN, Temple University: Troubling the Italian Color Line under the Fascist Race Laws


E-Mail: cyrus.schayegh@graduateinstitute.ch


Modern Transimperial and Interimperial Histories: forms, questions, prospects. In: H-Soz-Kult, 28.04.2022, <www.hsozkult.de/event/id/event-117570>