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Diasporas, Migration, and Identities
(British Group in Early American History, Cambridge, England, 9-11 Sep, 2005)

Call For Papers

Sponsored by the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture and the Cambridge University Mellon Professor of American History, Tony Badger.
The British Group in Early American History invites participants for its fifth annual conference, on the theme of "Diasporas, Migration, and Identities." The conference will take place at Clare College, University of Cambridge, between the 9th and 11th of September 2005.
The movement of peoples was the lifeblood of the Early Modern Atlantic world. This conference seeks to explore the origins, processes, and outcomes of this movement for individuals, their communities, and societies. Westward and transatlantic migration was the most formative and powerful influence over the evolution of North America, but was inconstant and uneven over time and place. Internal migration reconfigured demographic, economic, and religious conditions on the seaboard and in the backcountry, and changed the dynamics of settler-native relations. Return migration facilitated the construction of networks of communication, and offered insight into the contrasts between the Old World and the New. Illicit migration (or fugitivity) provided an outlet - whether temporary or permanent - through which people held in bondage manifested their discontent. These complex vectors of human movement underwrote the proliferation and adaptation of cultural practices, and culminated in the creation and expression of new identities by individuals, communities, and societies - albeit modelled on mythic archetypes.
The conference organisers invite papers or panels on any subject relating to the history of the Early Modern Atlantic World between c.1500 and c.1800, and particularly welcome proposals that engage with the theme of "Diasporas, Migration, and Identities." The below suggestions are not intended to be prescriptive, but to offer a flavour of the sorts of question we hope to explore.


- What influences affected specific migration patterns?
- How were subaltern groups (e.g. Indians and Africans) involved in creating and imposing identities upon themselves and others?
- Was 'Othering' something that only Europeans did, or was it a two-way process?
- To what extent did colonisation in the seventeenth or eighteenth centuries harden perceptions of Britishness?
- Was opportunity or loss a more significant force in the lives of European embarkees and colonial inhabitants?
- In what ways did the Loyalists differ from other diasporic groups?
- Are 'folkways' a useful categorising or analytical tool for the historical study of subsets of Europeans, Africans, and native Americans? - Did greater knowledge about the peripheries deter or encourage decisions to migrate?


- Does an 'Atlanticist' approach rationalise or limit our understandings of the impact of migration?
- Where and when was human agency more important than environmental conditions in determining the nature of colonial communities?
- How did the network of transatlantic shippers and merchants affect the direction and character of migration?
- How has Richard White's model of the 'Middle Ground' developed our understanding of how group identities are negotiated?
- In what ways did imports and exports alter colonial groups' self-perceptions?
- Were perceptions of gender and sexuality less affected by colonisation than race and class?
- How were power structures (e.g. religious orthodoxy or political hegemony) challenged or reinforced by migration?
- In what ways did changes in the organisation of families re-orientate colonial societies?


- Was migration (or diaspora) a prerequisite of exceptionalism or vice versa?
- Was the interplay of freedom and slavery more evident to insiders or outsiders?
- Do borderlands aid or abet our understanding of colonial identities?
- How justifiable is the Anglocentrism that has often characterised versions of America's colonial past?
- Were colonial wars harbingers of or responses to ethnic boundaries?
- How did native Americans differentiate between different European groups, and when and why did this discrimination dissolve a more collective perception of whiteness?
- To what extent were colonial laws, customs and leisure patterns barometers of creolisation?
- How does the phenomenon of border-crossings (e.g. Indian captivity, interracial marriage, christianisation) complicate our understanding of colonial identities?
- Were colonial towns more or less conducive than rural regions to identity-formation?
- How discernible were colonial identities before and after revolutions?
- Did migration undermine radicalism?

Please send an abstract of your paper/panel proposal and a short curriculum vitae to Ben Marsh at the address or e-mail below. The deadline for proposals is March 30, 2005.
Dr. Ben Marsh
Department of History
University of Stirling Stirling United Kingdom
e-mail: ben.marsh@stir.ac.uk

Conference chairs:
Gail MacLeitch (King's College, London)
Ben Marsh (Stirling University)
Peter Marshall (Manchester University)
Steve Sarson (University of Wales, Swansea)

British Group in Early American History