Comparative Empire:

Conflict, Competition, and Cooperation, 1750-1914

Image by Mike Enerio

Call for Papers



Comparative Empire: Conflict, Competition, and Cooperation, 1750-1914

By the time the First World War erupted in 1914, most inhabitants of the globe resided within an empire, either as citizens of a colonizing power or as subjects of colonial rule. The preceding “long nineteenth century” had witnessed the rise of various empires with significant overseas colonial possessions—such as Britain, France, the Dutch Republic (subsequently the Kingdom of the Netherlands), and Meiji Japan—to coexist alongside imperial powers contained within contiguous land masses, including the Ottoman, Russian, and Qing empires.

For its first world congress to be held in Singapore from 19 to 22 June 2023, the Society for Global Nineteenth-Century Studies is pleased to invite proposals on the theme of “Comparative Empire: Conflict, Competition, and Cooperation, 1750-1914.” We welcome proposals for papers and panels that consider forms of interimperial exchanges between empires during this period. Topics may include (but are not limited to):  

  • trading, manufacturing, and financial activities between and across empires

  • comparative literary undergrounds

  • anticolonial aesthetics

  • enslavement, exile, displacement, and forced or unforced migration

  • microhistorical and biographical comparisons of the experience of empire

  • frontiers, borderlands, boundaries

  • forms of diplomacy (embassies, consulates, treaties, accords), modes of foreign relations (bilateral, multilateral)

  • oceanic and overland journeys, travel, tourism

  • comparative figures of empire (portraiture, sculpture, decorative objects)

  • cultures of exploration (botanical, missionary, statistical, cartographic)

  • historiographies of empire

  • explanations for empire: economic, geopolitical, cultural, institutional

  • conceptualizations of empire (the what, how, and why of empire) as well as conceptual terminology (transimperialism, postcolonialism, and so on)

  • colonial propaganda

  • cross-cultural literary texts, theories, and practices as well as comparative realisms, epic, comics/illustrations, etc.

  • competition over colonial possessions (wars, conflicts, scrambles) and over expansionist strategies 

  • continuities and differences among empires across the long nineteenth century

  • evidencing empire (photography, oral history, documentation, archives)

  • imperial networking and networks

  • literary traffic, circulations, contacts outside the centre–periphery model

  • cultural traffic between imperial powers and colonies

  • movements of animals, objects, ideas, and knowledge across empires

  • responses to the global spread of disease (sharing of medical knowledge, differing forms of treatment)

  • the language(s) of empire and linguistic homogenization and differentiation

  • Colonial music institutions, intercultural theater collaborations and performances

  • religion and colonialism

  • the politics of empire and the practices of anthropology 

Although individual paper and panel proposals that confine themselves to the study of a single empire will be considered, we are especially interested in work that encompasses more than one imperial power. In addition to paper and panel proposals related to the conference theme, we also welcome proposals for prearranged special panels on the two approaches outlined below:

Methodology or pedagogy roundtables: These sessions should focus on methodological approaches to studying and practical strategies for teaching the nineteenth century in a global context. 

Big Ideas: These sessions will be focused on a single thought-provoking topic related to the conference theme. The format may vary from standard panels (three presenters and a moderator) to lightning roundtables (five to eight presenters delivering short, provocative position papers) to others that may be proposed.

Finally, we welcome proposals for Posters to be displayed in our expo area. Proposals should be on one of five topics: 1) global environments and sustainable development (particularly appropriate for undergraduate submissions); 2) model practices in global nineteenth-century studies (individual instructors and institutional programs); 3) short- and long-term study abroad and the global nineteenth century; 4) intra- and interinstitutional cooperation to advance the study of the global nineteenth century; and 5) facilitating learning among scholars from different fields.