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December
29
2017

CFP: Western Conference on British Studies

Posted by rdaily under CFP | Tags: annual meeting, wcbs | 0 Comments

The next WCBS annual conference will be held in San Antonio, Texas, on September 28-29, 2018.

The WCBS Program Committee, co-chaired by Susan Grayzel and Joseph Ward of Utah State University, seeks to design a meeting that is both interdisciplinary and wide-ranging in its temporal span. Scholars of Britain, the British Atlantic World, and the British Empire broadly defined are invited to participate. The committee welcomes proposals for both individual papers and full panels, and it encourages graduate student submissions.  

Proposals should include a 250-word abstract of each paper and a short curriculum vitae for each participant. Full panel proposals should also include a brief description of the panel's overall aim and indicate clearly the panel’s organizer and primary contact.

Please submit proposals to joe.ward@usu.edu by the end of the day on Friday, March 2, 2018. 

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The NACBS cordially invites you to its reception at the annual meeting of the American Historical Association in Washington, DC, on Saturday, January 6, 2018. It will be held from 6:00 to 7:30 pm in the Coolidge Room of the Marriott Wardman Park. Hope to see you for drinks and conversation!
 
Wishing you all the best for 2018,
The Executive Committee
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This is the first in a series of posts on "Teaching Britain and the World." The NACBS would like to thank the British Scholar Society for permission to cross-post these blogs. To learn more about the British Scholar Society, see: http://britishscholar.org/

In 1883, J. R. Seeley famously called students to the history of the British Empire in a neat set of lectures, framed around a smooth, aspirational, titular narrative: The Expansion of England.[1] In the generations that followed, many who engaged with British imperial history did so only to produce understandings of that past (and present) that are richer and more complex than Seely sought to imagine. Histories of the empire as a uniform structure have been superseded by analyses that instead reveal a global set of shifting, frequently renegotiated, and rarely stable relationships. These welcome developments, though, have brought new challenges to the classroom. The perennial question of undergraduate surveys has grown ever more daunting: how can a single semester be stretched to cover the dynamism and heterogeneity found in contemporary studies of the British Empire?

The richness of today’s imperial history—the necessity of pushing beyond a metropolitan center and of engaging with marginalized voices—is easy to suggest, but difficult to demonstrate through lecture without resorting to an endless series of examples that would lose the attention of all but the most careful note-takers. Fortunately, just as British imperial history has changed since Seeley’s day, so too has modern pedagogy developed more dynamic approaches to the classroom. Drawing on recent trends in collaborative learning, my survey of the British Empire works to make the diversity of the British Empire a pedagogical advantage, one that provides unique opportunities for student engagement. The class is built around a multi-step independent research project, in which students work as a class to piece together a “patchwork” understanding of an empire—decentered both from the metropole and from the lectern.

Early in the semester, after a brief overview of the British Empire in the mid-eighteenth century (our starting point), each student selects a colony on which to become an “expert.” Over the course of the semester, students complete a series of assignments examining these colonies, producing short essays, formal presentations, and even videos or online activities (e.g., quizzes or lessons on an LMS such as Moodle). (The latter possibility can be particularly helpful in large classes, where individual presentations might eat up too much class time.) The exact parameters of these assignments can be framed to emphasize particular themes in imperial history. For instance, to develop skills in primary source analysis, I have students find newspaper articles, which in turn foster discussion about how print journalism sparked new connections and tensions across the empire. Later in the semester, students are tasked with finding propaganda posters from the Second World War, using analyses of visual objects to produce an imperial understanding of Sonya Rose’s useful question—“which people’s war?”[2]

These assignments ultimately pave the way for a research paper exploring how the British Empire was experienced and understood in the students’ respective colonies. Yet, for me, this final product is less important than the scaffolding along the way, in which students’ research is used to enrich day-to-day class activities. As students engage with each other’s work, their findings help to create conversations that reveal the diverse experiences that constituted the British Empire. Both classroom debates and written responses provide students the opportunity to explore their own connections, allowing a more active style of learning than a traditionally designed class might allow. Equally importantly, as students tackle each new question from far-flung regions of the empire, they must work to put together a variety of perspectives, giving voice to historical agencies that can be obscured when explored from the metropole.

At its core, the “patchwork empire” project should encourage students to reconsider what scholars mean by the British Empire—and whether that meaning has remained stable over time. For some students, these questions appear immediately as they wonder which colony to select. A student interested in researching Kenya or Australia might wonder how to study a colony that did not yet exist in the mid-eighteenth century. Here, I push students to reframe the question: rather than exploring the history of a colony, they should explore the relationships between their region, Britain, and the rest of the world. This allows the class to discuss interactions, exchange, and even informal empire in a way that goes beyond the “pink” areas on the map.

Of course, turning over class time and energy to students’ independent inquiry has potential pitfalls. An emphasis on student-led discussion means that the learning objectives for the class necessarily shift away from mastery of specific content to an emphasis on overarching themes, tracing moments of agency, negotiation, and constraint as they existed across the empire. Nevertheless, there is always the risk that students’ understanding of the “patchwork empire” might be too patchy. For many students, the task of research itself can be intimidating, and they may struggle to articulate key ideas about their findings. I try to foster a sense of collaboration in the classroom, working to treat misconceptions as areas for further discussion, rather than errors to be critiqued. If students are working with a wide range of colonies and regions, the possibilities for comparison and contrast across regions can push students to work through their own mistakes. Fortunately, the increasingly global nature of the student body at many institutions ensures that students come to the course with diverse geographic interests, such that their own curiosities expand the perspectives with which the class can engage.

The research required of each student to produce a “patchwork empire” is considerable, but I have found that strong scaffolding allows even freshmen students to rise to the challenge. The result is a classroom in which each student knows that their voice is valuable part of a conversation, bringing a unique perspective not only based on their own experiences, but also on their own research. That dynamic possibility is both a pedagogical ideal and a reflection of British imperial history at its most innovative. Where Seeley at his lectern spoke of the expansion of England, today’s imperial scholars have built up a more vibrant understanding of imperial history. Surveys of the British Empire must mirror that conversation, and students’ active, decentered inquiry can play a significant role in achieving that goal.

Christina Welsch is an Assistant Professor of History at the College of Wooster. Visit her website at: https://www.wooster.edu/bios/cwelsch/


[1] J. R. Seeley, The Expansion of England: Two Courses of Lectures, (Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1883).

[2] Sonya O. Rose, Which People’s War? National Identity and Citizenship in Britain, 1939-1945, (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003).

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December
16
2017

CFP: Modern Workshop, NACBS Annual Meeting, Providence, RI, October 25-28, 2018.

Posted by StephenJackson under Blog | Tags: cfp, NACBS 2018 | 0 Comments

Theme: “Altruism and Its Discontents: Human Rights, Humanitarianism, and Development”

Deadline Extension: March 5, 2018

Materials: CV and 1-page abstract

This workshop will explore human rights, humanitarianism, and development in the modern period, c. 1800-2000, through the prism of “altruism.” While usually treated separately, each of these areas of endeavor grapples with often competing interests in projects aimed at improving the lives of others, some altruistic, others less so. We seek papers that engage critically in human rights, humanitarianism, or development, with special consideration for those positioned at their intersections. What has been the relationship between humanitarianism and discourses on human rights and how has it changed over time? How do we explain the dynamics of imperialism, internationalism, and foreign intervention? Humanitarian intervention and development? Or, empire, decolonization, and “development” projects? Where were projects made and unmade and how? What were their costs and who bore them? Where did these discourses or projects fit within anti-colonial resistance or in the civic life of post-colonial societies? While our emphasis is on British engagement in the world, we welcome equally papers that examine the reception of these projects among local populations and/or that put British actors in comparative or international context.

The session will include 6-8 pre-circulated papers of 15-25 pages each. Participants will be chosen with a view to the complementarity of their research topics and strong preference will be given to graduate students and early career scholars. Participants must be prepared to submit their papers by September 30, 2018. Each participant will be required to read all papers for the session, and to share written comments on two of the papers, prior to the conference. The session itself will include brief presentations and discussions of each paper, followed by a more extensive conversation between participants and the audience around common questions and themes.

Those interested must submit a CV and a one-page abstract to Caroline Shaw (cshaw@bates.edu) and Matthew Hilton (m.hilton@qmul.ac.uk) by March 5, 2018. Results will be announced by March 1.

Note: Those not accepted for the workshop may still submit proposals for the NACBS poster session, or paper or panel proposals for regular NACBS sessions, by the general deadline of March 30, 2018. Some financial assistance will be available for graduate students (up to US$500) and for a limited number of under/unemployed NACBS members within ten years of their terminal degree (US$300). Details of these travel grants will be posted to www.nacbs.org and emailed to members once the 2018 meeting program is prepared.

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December
8
2017

CFP: Britain and the World Annual Conference

Posted by rdaily under CFP | Tags: Britain and the World, Exeter | 0 Comments

The following call for papers can be found at the British Scholar Society link here.

 

This serves as the Call for Papers for the 2018 Britain and the World Conference, Exeter, June 2018!

After our tenth anniversary conference in Austin in April 2017, Britain and the World returns to the UK for 2018: Thursday 21 to Saturday 23 June. It will be at Exeter University: the venue is Reed Hall and accommodation is at the neighbouring Holland Hall, and, as always, the conference is concerned with interactions within the ‘British world’ from the beginning of the seventeenth century to the present and will highlight the importance of transnational perspectives.

The Keynote Speaker will be Professor Richard Overy (Exeter), and the Plenary Speaker is Professor Audrey Horning (Queen’s University Belfast). There’ll be lunchtime roundtables on cinema and history, and on public history. Publishers present will include our journal publisher Edinburgh University Press, and our book series publisher Palgrave Macmillan, and the commissioning editor will be present throughout to discuss your publishing plans.

We accept both individual twenty-minute papers and complete panel submissions. Panels are expected to consist of three papers and should be submitted by one person who is willing to serve as the point of contact. Complete panels should also include a chair. In addition to abstracts for each individual paper, panel submissions should also include a 100-150 word introduction describing the panel’s main theme. The conference does not discriminate between panels and individual paper submissions, nor between graduate students and established academics.

As ever the conference icebreaker will be held on the Thursday evening, the Dinner Party on the Friday, and the outings downtown on the Saturday. These events will provide numerous opportunities for networking and more in the capital of Devon.

Exeter is two hours by direct train from London, and there is a direct National Express bus line from Heathrow Airport. Exeter also has its own international airport, and is one hour by train from Bristol.

On campus is the Bill Douglas Cinema Museum, home to one of the largest collections in Britain of material relating to film. The University’s special collections are noted for archives relating to twentieth-century South West Writing (and include the papers of Daphne du Maurier), literature and visual culture, Victorian culture and imperial endeavour, Arab and Islamic studies, and religious and parish book collections. In city centre there are Exeter Cathedral and archives, the Devon and Exeter Institute (which houses a large collection of local archival materials), Exeter Castle, and the Royal Albert Memorial Museum (RAMM).

All submissions for inclusion in the conference should be received by Friday, 15 December 2017, with decisions on inclusion announced on Monday, 8 January 2018. Submissions should be made by email to editor@britishscholar.org. Please submit all information in the body of your email (no attachments or PDFs, thank you!) and in the following order: name, affiliation, email, paper title, abstract, keywords.

Registration rates and other fees are as follows:

Waged Member –  £140 / $185
Non-Waged Member – £95 / $125
Waged Non-Member – £185 / $244
Non-Waged, Non-Member – £140 / $185

B&B housing – £51.00/night / $67
BBQ dinner– £20.00 / $26
3-Course Dinner – £30.00 / $ 40

Updates regarding the conference will periodically be posted on the Society website. It is hoped that participants will be able to call upon their departments for hotel and transportation expenses as the conference is not able to offer financial support.

On Twitter our @britishscholar hashtag is #BATW2018. Registration for the Conference will open on Monday 5 February 2018. If you have any questions about the conference, please contact the Conference Organizing Committee directly at conferenceatbritishscholardotorg.

http://britishscholar.org/

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December
6
2017

CFP: Mid-Atlantic Conference on British Studies (MACBS) Annual Meeting

Posted by rdaily under conference | Tags: cfp, macbs | 0 Comments

MID-ATLANTIC CONFERENCE ON BRITISH STUDIES ANNUAL MEETING
UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND
SATURDAY and SUNDAY, APRIL 7-8, 2018

The MACBS -- the mid-Atlantic affiliate of the NACBS, the main organization for British Studies in Canada and the United States – is soliciting proposals for papers and panels on all areas of British Studies for our annual conference. We welcome participation from scholars of Britain, the British Atlantic World, and the British Empire broadly defined, and we are open to proposals ranging from the ancient to the contemporary and from scholars of history, anthropology, literature, art, politics, economics and related fields. Senior faculty, junior faculty, and graduate students are all encouraged to participate.

Proposals for both individual papers and full panels are welcome. Paper proposals should include a brief (no more than 250 words) abstract of the paper and a curriculum vita. Full panel proposals should also include a one-paragraph description of the panel’s overall aim and indicate which panel member will serve as the organizer and primary contact.

All submissions must be received by 3 January 2018. 

Send proposals via email to:

Prof. Nicholas Popper, Program Co-Chair
Dept. of History
College of William & Mary
nspopper@wm.edu
 
Prof. Katie Hindmarch-Watson, Program Co-Chair
Dept. of History
Johns Hopkins University
katie.hw@jhu.edu
 

For additional information, please see the MACBS website:
http://www.lehman.edu/academics/arts-humanities/history/macbs/

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December
1
2017

My NACBS: Our new series dedicated to building community and collaborations.

Posted by rdaily under MyNACBS | Tags: Interview | 0 Comments

This is the first post in our new series designed to introduce and connect NACBS members. Taking our lead from the American Historical Association’s member spotlight posts, we hope to deepen our sense of community through short posts that delve into who we are and what we value. For more information on this new series, contact Blog editor Stephen Jackson at Stephen.Jackson@usiouxfalls.edu.

Name and title: Kathrin Levitan, Associate Professor of History at the College of William and Mary


What are your fields of interest?

I work on nineteenth-century Britain and the British Empire. I usually call myself a social and cultural historian but my work really includes political and intellectual history as well. The research projects I have done, while covering very different topics, have all addressed nineteenth-century debates about empire, gender, class, and political power.

What are you currently working on?

I am currently working on a project on letter-writing and the Post Office in nineteenth-century Britain and the British Empire. I am interested in letter-writing as a social practice during the era of industrialization, when more people had access to letters than ever before. Nineteenth-century discussions about postal infrastructure and letters speak to all kinds of important issues, including gender, migration, class, nation-building and empire-building, and literary genre.

Do you have a favorite archive, digital or physical? What about it draws you in? 

I love working at the National Archives in Kew. This was the first archive that I really worked at, and although I have worked at many others since then it still draws me back. I love how open and accessible it is, how easy it is to use, and how it draws all kinds of people from school children to academics to people researching their own families.

Have you ever experienced a “break-through” moment while researching? What was it like?

I had an interesting experience recently while working on my letter-writing project.  While working in the Post Office archive in London, I began to look at Post Office appointment books, which for centuries listed the names and salaries of postal officials across the country. I realized that women who ran rural, colonial, and sometimes major urban post offices in Britain were in some cases making very high salaries and supervising large numbers of employees, at a time when almost no other government jobs were available to women. This made me realize that postmistresses and their circumstances were worth studying in their own right. What made this somewhat of a “break-through” moment for me was the fact that it drew me away from my initial purpose and into a side project of sorts, which was in fact very different from the primary project from which it arose. My interest in postmistresses has compelled me to look at a number of archival sources that are more obscure and specific than the more public sources I had been looking at about postal reform and theories of letter-writing. They have allowed me to reconstruct historical details about particular women who have not been part of the historical narrative about the Post Office. 

What attracted you to this work? Why British studies?

I have always been interested in European history, and my teaching and research interests remain transnational now. I may have been attracted specifically to studying Britain partly through reading nineteenth-century British novels. In college I double-majored in English and History and I continue to do interdisciplinary work. 

Have your academic interests transformed over time?

In some ways my interests have changed and in other ways they have remained remarkably consistent.  When I finished my book about the British census and began doing research on letter-writing and the Post Office I was surprised to find how much overlap the topics had. While I thought that I was making a shift to thinking much more about everyday life through the social practice of letter-writing, I found that in fact both the census and postal reform were government projects that were billed as democratizers and national unifiers, that were supported by Whigs and that provoked suspicion among Tories, and that forced me to investigate the connection between government documents, newspapers, and more personal and sometimes literary sources.

Does your project have any particular relevance to the contemporary?

I am currently working on a project about a communication revolution of sorts – the moment when letter-writing became accessible to large numbers of people, and in some cases began to take over large segments of people’s everyday lives. This clearly has relevance to current discussions about communication. Like many people in our own time, nineteenth-century observers were interested in the question of whether faster, cheaper, and more regular communication fundamentally changed people’s relationships and ways of thinking about their own geographic mobility.

How do you engage students in British studies?

 I try to engage students by exposing them to a wide variety of texts as well as musical and artistic productions from the past. In some cases, students may already be familiar with a particular text or other source, but they may not have read it or interpreted it through the lens of British history. As one example, I sometimes show a clip from the movie Mary Poppins that allows us to discuss gender norms and Empire in the Edwardian period. While most students are already familiar with the film, they are often surprised to see that it has relevance to the history that we are studying in class.

Do you have a favorite text to teach?

I have so many favorite texts to teach! A few of my favorites in British Studies include Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s France, An Ode, Mary Prince’s A History of Mary Prince, Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, a government investigative document called “Women Miners in the English Coal Pits,” Joseph Conrad’s “An Outpost of Progress,” and Andrea Levy’s novel Small Island.

Do you have a book, museum, television series or film you would recommend to our readers?

Two televisions series that are relevant to either my teaching or my research are Foyle’s War (about Britain during World War II, and particularly the social effects of war) and Lark Rise to Candleford (about a country post office and its postmistress in the late nineteenth century). A film that I sometimes teach and that I would recommend in general is The Wind that Shakes the Barley, about the war for Irish independence. Regarding museums and books, there are too many good ones to list!

 

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Theme: “Populations: counting, classifying, moving and managing groups of people”

Deadline Extension: March 5, 2018.

Materials: CV and 1-page abstract

This workshop will explore the topic of “populations” in the early modern period. How, by whom, and to what ends were groups of people defined or treated as populations? What were the intellectual and practical consequences of such classifications? What historical or historiographical legacies have they had? How do historians’ definitions of “population” replicate or resist early modern categories and practices? How do current social-scientific, political, or legal understandings of population help or hinder historical analysis? Papers may address these questions from perspectives including but not limited to migration and colonization; slavery, race and ethnicity; reproduction; medicine and health; religious and national difference; political economy and governance; political arithmetic and information.

The session will include 6-8 pre-circulated papers of 15-25 pages each. Participants will be chosen with a view to the complementarity of their research topics and strong preference will be given to graduate students and early career scholars. Participants must be prepared to submit their papers by September 30, 2018. Each participant will be required to read all papers for the session, and to share written comments on two of the papers, prior to the conference. The session itself will include brief presentations and discussions of each paper, followed by a more extensive conversation between participants and the audience around common questions and themes.

Those interested must submit a CV and a one-page abstract to Rachel Weil (rjw5@cornell.edu) and Ted McCormick (ted.mccormick@concordia.ca) by March 5, 2018.

Note: Those not accepted for the early modern workshop may still submit proposals for NACBS poster sessions, or paper or panel proposals for regular NACBS sessions, by the general deadline of March 30, 2018. Some financial assistance will be available for graduate students (up to US$500) and for a limited number of under/unemployed members within ten years of their terminal degree (US$300). Details of these travel grants will be posted to www.nacbs.org and emailed to members once the 2018 meeting program is prepared.

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November
30
2017

Call for Papers: NACBS Annual Meeting in Providence, Rhode Island October 25-28, 2018

Posted by StephenJackson under CFP, conference | Tags: cfp | 0 Comments

The NACBS and its affiliate, the Northeast Conference on British Studies, seek participation by scholars in all areas of British Studies for the 2018 meeting. We will meet in Providence, Rhode Island, from October 25-28, 2018. We solicit proposals for presentations on Britain, the British Empire, and the British world, including topics relating to component parts of Britain and on British influence (or vice versa) in Ireland, the Commonwealth, and former colonies in Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean (etc.) Our interests range from the medieval to the modern. We welcome participation by scholars from across the humanities and social sciences, from all parts of the globe (not just North America), and from all career stages and backgrounds. We reaffirm our commitment to British Studies broadly conceived, and welcome proposals that reflect the diversity of scholars and scholarship in the field.

We invite panel proposals that address selected themes, methodology, and pedagogy, as well as roundtable discussions of topical and thematic interest, including conversations among authors of recent books, reflections on landmark scholarship, and discussions about professional practice.  We are particularly interested in submissions that have a broad chronological focus and/or interdisciplinary breadth.  Standard panels typically include three presenters speaking for 20 minutes each, a commentator, and a chair, while roundtables typically include four presenters speaking for 15 minutes each and a chair. We are open to other formats, though; please feel free to consult with the program committee chair.

We hope to secure as broad a range of participation as possible and will thus consider individual paper proposals in addition to the standard full panel proposals. Our preference is for panels that include both emerging and established scholars; we welcome the participation of junior scholars and Ph.D. candidates beyond the qualifying stage. To foster intellectual interchange, we ask applicants to compose panels that feature participation from multiple institutions. In an effort to allow a broader range of participants, no participant will be permitted to take part in more than one session in a substantial role. (That is, someone presenting or commenting on one panel cannot also present or comment on another, though individuals presenting or commenting on one panel may serve as chairs for other panels, if need be.) Submissions are welcome from participants in last year’s conference, though if the number of strong submissions exceeds the number of available spaces, selection decisions may take into account recent participation.

As complete panels are more likely to be accepted, we recommend that interested participants issue calls on H-Albion or social media (e.g., @TheNACBS on Twitter or on the NACBS Facebook page) to arrange a panel. If a full panel cannot be arranged by the deadline, however, please do submit the individual proposal and the program committee will try to build submissions into full panels as appropriate.

In addition to the panels, we will be sponsoring a poster session.  The posters will be exhibited throughout the conference, and there will be a scheduled time when presenters will be with their posters to allow for further discussion. 

The submission website at http://nacbs.org/conference will open in early January; submissions will close as of 30 March 30 2018.

All submissions are electronic, and need to be completed in one sitting.   Before you start your submission, you should have the following information:

  1. Names, affiliations and email addresses for all panel participants.  PLEASE NOTE: We create the program from the submission, so be sure that names, institutional titles, and paper titles are provided as they should appear on the program.  
  2. A note whether data projection is necessary, desired, or unnecessary.
  3. A brief summary CV for each participant, indicating education, current affiliations, and major publications.   (750 words maximum per CV.)
  4. Title and Abstract for each paper or presentation.   Roundtables do not need titles for each presentation, but if you have them, that is fine.  If there is no title, there should still be an abstract – i.e. “X will speak about this subject through the lens of this period/approach/region etc.”
  5. POSTERS: Those proposing posters should enter organizer information and first presenter information only.

All communication will be through the panel organizer, who will be responsible for ensuring that members of the panel receive the information they need.

All program presenters must be current members of the NACBS by September 28, one month before the conference, or risk being removed from the program.

 

Some financial assistance will become available for graduate students (up to $500) and for a limited number of under/unemployed members within ten years of their terminal degree ($300). Details of these travel grants and how to apply will be posted to www.nacbs.org and emailed to members after the program for the 2018 meeting is prepared.

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America Meredith, 2012

The road to Indigenous London, strangely enough, began in Seattle. For my doctoral research, I completed a dissertation that would eventually become Native Seattle: Histories from the Crossing-Over Place (2007), a book that examined three kinds of Native history in the city: the experiences of the local Duwamish people, in whose traditional territory the city was built beginning in the 1850s; the histories of Native migration to the city from other places, starting in the later nineteenth century; and the uses of “Indian” imagery such as totem poles and the iconic Chief Seattle in the urban imaginary, something that has always been a part of the city’s history. Instead of treating Indigenous and urban histories as mutually exclusive – a typical way to narrate North American history – I argued that they have in fact been mutually constitutive.

During the same years that I was finishing Native Seattle, I was married to a Londoner. We travelled to the city on the Thames regularly, and each time, I found myself wishing I was not a historian of the nineteenth- and twentieth-century American West, but instead one with expertise in the kinds of history that would allow me to write about London. I was especially captivated by the idea of hidden histories within the urban landscape, from the works of Thomas de Quincey and Henry Mayhew through to P. L. Travers, Arthur Machen, Iain Sinclair, and China Miéville. I also became obsessed with lost rivers like the Effra and the Fleet, many of which still flow under the city. It was this sense of fugitive and occulted landscapes within a palimpsestic and deeply storied civic fabric that I found so compelling. And so, when my husband jokingly suggested I should write a book like Native Seattle about London, I at first scoffed, but quickly realized that this would be something potentially innovative. What would it look like to take the basic premise of Native Seattle – refracting a city’s history through Indigenous experience – and apply it to the centre of empire?

The result is Indigenous London. It is a five-hundred-years-and-then-some history of London framed through the experiences of Indigenous women, children, and men to traveled to the city, willingly or otherwise, from territories that became Canada, the US, New Zealand, and Australia, beginning in 1502 and continuing into the early twenty-first century. Built around what I call “domains of entanglement” – knowledge, disorder, reason, ritual, discipline, and memory – and including six poetic interludes built out of archival fragments, the book, parallel in many ways to Native Seattle, makes the claim that London’s urban history is bound up with the histories of Indigenous peoples throughout these four settler societies.

To get at this history, I not only had to become conversant in the histories of, for example, the Māori peoples of Aotearoa/New Zealand, but to work my way into the massive literature on the social and cultural history of London itself. The research not only took me to archives with strong Indigenous holdings – most notably the Newberry and Huntington libraries – but deep into the stacks of the British Library and the Institute for Historical Research.

For example, one of the stories in Indigenous London that readers tend to have strong responses to is that of Nutaaq, an Inuit baby who was put on display in a City tavern in 1577 but who died soon after. He was buried at St. Olave’s Church, Hart Street. To understand Nutaaq’s context, I not only had to survey the history of Inuit-English encounters in the early modern period; I also needed to create a “deep map” of St. Olave’s, a church whose most famous congregant was Samuel Pepys. (Indeed, the fragmentary archive related to Nutaaq, contrasted with Pepys’s encyclopedic, self-referential corpus, symbolizes for me the very nature of colonialism.) I also needed to include the story of Peter Morin, a Tahltan scholar and performance artist from Canada, whose “cultural graffiti” in London included a 2013 ceremony to honour the spirit of the lost boy. This interleaving of the urban and the Indigenous, of the past and the present, is emblematic of the work I was trying to do with Indigenous London.

Another interleaving of this sort can be found on the cover of the book. In 1762, three Cherokee diplomats traveled to London to cement peace after the close of the Anglo-Cherokee War. Like Indigenous travelers before and since, Utsidihi, Kunagadoga, and Atawayi were massive celebrities during their time in the city, with references to their stay appearing in London newspapers and even in the work of William Hogarth, and their political work resonated in Cherokee territory as well. Two hundred and fifty years later, in fact, the Cherokee Nations sent a delegation to Britain to walk in the footsteps of the three diplomats. Among this group was an artist named America Meredith, who commemorated the 2012 trip by creating a work that imagined the three original travelers walking across the iconic Abbey Road zebra crossing. Simultaneously iconically London and immediately recognizable as Indigenous, the image does work that parallels the story I was trying to tell, of the intersections between urban and Indigenous histories on a global and imperial scale, and of the power of Indigenous memory despite the traumas of settler colonialism.

There are so many other stories to share: not just of captives and diplomats, but of athletes and poets, medicine people and missionaries, and many others. And these are just the stories of London; there are other projects currently in the works on Indigenous histories in other imperial cities: Rome, Madrid, and beyond. To tell these kinds of urban Indigenous histories is to reframe not only the cities in question, but the place of Indigenous history in world history. Instead of relegating Indigenous peoples to the past as foils to global modernity, this work illustrates the ways in which Indigenous people and peoples were co-creators of that modernity. To do so, I hope, speaks back to empire in solidarity with today’s Indigenous communities and nations.

 Coll Thrush is professor and graduate chair at the history department of the University of British Columbia.

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