CFP (extended): Texts in Motion (May 2018, Cambridge)

Ayse Polat's picture

Call for Papers

Texts in Motion: Materiality, Mobility, and Archiving in World History

12 May 2018

Hosted by the World History Workshop, University of Cambridge

The movement of people, commodities, and ideas has long attracted the attention of scholars of world history. Straddling the interstices between commodities and ideas, written texts have been a particularly productive subject of study. This one-day conference invites graduate students to reflect critically on the written and other physical sources on which their research depends as ‘texts in motion’ within world history. We welcome submissions which interrogate the material and political trajectories of particular texts, which foreground the power relations and truth regimes underpinning the archives of world history, which attend to the sensory and affective dimensions of working with the written word and physical texts.

We are particularly interested in texts like petitions which undergo multiple and varied movements across their life-histories. To highlight what is distinctive about texts in motion, we also encourage reflections on texts which appear fixed in place, and on the relationship between visual and oral sources, on the one hand, and written texts, on the other. And we invite critical reflections on what is lost or gained in our engagements with written texts as a consequence of the digitisation of archives.

The conference aims to bring together researchers working on various parts of the globe, including the Americas, Africa, Asia, Oceania, and Europe. We welcome papers on a wide range of themes, including but not limited to:

Texts in motion: from ‘fixed’ monuments to ‘mobile’ petitions and letters
Making text mobile: technological innovation, scribal labour, translation work
Architectures of power: colonial archives, catalogues, hierarchies, classification
Materiality: archives as repositories of paper, questions of lacunae, loss, and decay
Archives in motion: engaging displaced and migrated archives
Allure of the archives: tactile, interpretative, and emotional experiences of the archive Digital histories: immateriality and the consequences of archival digitisation
Beyond text: visual sources, orality, and regimes of truth, accuracy, authority

We encourage graduate students in any related discipline to apply, and welcome individual submissions as well as suggestions for themed panels. Our aim is to bring together researchers working on various parts of the globe, including the Americas, Africa, Asia, Oceania, and Europe, and across the many different scales of world history. To apply, please submit an abstract of 200- 250 words and a one-page current academic CV to by 12 March 2018. Please include your name, institutional affiliation, and contact email address with your submission.


Circulated by the conveners of the World History Workshop, University of Cambridge: Laura Channing, Annalise Higgins, Louise Moschetta, Ayse Polat, Tom Smith, and Chris Wilson.