Other 1919s: The Problem of Sovereignty in a Global Context

Wilson Jacob's picture
September 6, 2019 to September 7, 2019
Quebec, Canada
Subject Fields: 
Sexuality Studies, Women's & Gender History / Studies, Colonial and Post-Colonial History / Studies, Environmental History / Studies, Indigenous Studies

Celebrating a hundred years of Peace and international order would require a counterfactual history, one with a certain urgency. It is in that spirit that this interdisciplinary conference, Other 1919s: The Problem of Sovereignty in a Global Context, is being convened. Sovereignty has been at the heart of major twentieth- and twenty-first century political, economic, cultural, and environmental matters of concern. It is a problem that has been given a complex yet particular answer in the form of the nation-state and its domestic and foreign familial bodies, which insure its putative universality and reproduction. 1919 was a crucial moment in that process of a particular form of sovereignty becoming universal and reproducible. However, in spite of its centennial anniversary we do not wish to make the events of 1919 our only or even central focus as we inquire into the problem of sovereignty. Quite like 1648, we posit that it is a temporal chimera that ensues from partial histories (and often counterfactuals) that have underpinned theoretical and philosophical reflections on sovereignty the world over. In turn, modern ideological movements and institutional forms typically presuppose these key historical ruptures. Therefore the significance of 1919 is not being disputed. Quite the contrary. Our concern is that investigations of a phenomenon with such powerful and polyvalent effects have not been informed by a genuine global historical sensibility (despite claims to such a globality as in explorations of liberalism, constitutionalism, the Wilsonian moment, etc.), which requires a deeper, broader, and fairer assessment of multiple local formulations of sovereignty at different times. In other words, we hope that by bracketing the teleology of modern sovereignty we might gain a better view of other sovereignties and in turn a better appreciation of the global as a paradoxical site of many-in-one.

An interdisciplinary inquiry into sovereignty at different moments, including the particular formation that was the outcome of WWI, will place the linear trajectory of sovereignty enshrined in the nation-state in question by bringing to light futures-past. Some of these visions/practices of sovereignty have not been fully displaced by that history we tend to take to be normal and even natural. In this regard, historians of all periods, anthropologists, sociologists, art historians, political scientists, and comparative literature and religion scholars are invited to think through how sovereignty in different places were conceived and performed to effect significant change in the (im)material landscapes of life and non-life. Scholars in Indigenous Studies are especially encouraged to apply.

Preference will be given to advanced graduate students, postdocs, and junior faculty. Funding for conference participants may be available but will be known only in June.  Please submit a title and abstract by June 3, 2019. Also, please indicate your current affiliation, where you will be traveling from, and whether you anticipate receiving conference support from your institution. Send applications to wilson.jacob@concordia.ca.

Other 1919s will be held at Concordia University, Montréal from 6-7 September 2019.

Convener: Dr. Wilson Chacko Jacob, Concordia University

Collaborators: Dr. Amal Ghazal, Simon Fraser University; Dr. Andrew Ivaska and Dr. Norman Ingram, Concordia University

Keynote Speaker: Dr. Faisal Devji, Oxford University, “Escaping the Global Event”

Contact Info: 

Dr. Wilson Chacko Jacob
Associate Professor
Department of History, LB 1041-19
Concordia University 
1455 De Maisonneuve Blvd W
Montreal, Quebec
Canada H3G 1M8