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The University of Southampton
Centre for Imperial and Post Colonial Studies

On Edge: New Frontiers in Atlantic History: A conference at Southampton

Published: 23 February 2016

In the early modern world, no less than is true today, borders caused anxiety. A range of actors, from authorities to ordinary men and women, policed and contested boundaries; held them firm and flouted them entirely; fought over them and forged networks that transcended them. Boundaries were meant to establish sovereignty and political control, assert claims to natural resources and inhabitants’ loyalty, establish (closed) zones of economic activity, and in myriad ways determine who was in and who was out. The problem was that, however they were drawn, the lines were continually appearing, blurring and disappearing, particularly in places beyond the direct military and administrative oversight of European imperial authorities. Two distinct and usually separate lines of scholarship examine spaces of border contest: inland ‘frontier’ studies and maritime history.

In June/July 2016, the University of Southampton will be hosting a two-day conference, co-organized with Dr Jessica Roney, Temple University), at which participants will be invited to bridge the landed and aquatic frontiers of borderlands and maritime history to investigate in a broadly comparative framework how early modern actors defined, defied, and took advantage of borders, be they on land or on water. Through broadly comparative papers and revealing case studies this conference provides a forum to explore topics including, but not limited to, port cities, divided, middle, and Native grounds, saltwater frontiers, riverine trade, migration, diaspora, epistemology, and settler colonialism. This conference has been funded by an Adventures in Research Award from the University of Southampton. Further information can be found on the conference website.


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