Medieval and Renaissance Center, New York University, March 7-9, 2019
Imperial Connections: Ports, Power, People
Organizers: Jane Burbank and Fred Cooper
This conference is co-sponsored by the Henry Luce Foundation, and NYU's Center for Global Asia, African History Initiative, Ottoman and Turkish Studies Initiative (OTS-NYU), Department of Russian & Slavic Studies, and Department of History. It is hosted by the Glucksman Ireland House at NYU.
The conference will explore the relationship of imerial rule, which is usually seen as the projection of power over territory and people, to connections that cross lines of imperial control. Connections are often envisioned as lines of networks and nodes. These can intersect in particular places, port cities prominent among them. Examining whether networking and imperial structures of administration and control reinforced each other or operated at cross purposes opens up possibilities for considering a wide range of political, cultural and economic intersections across time and space. Empires - e.g., the Mongols in the 13th century, the Portuguese in the 13th - exercised power over great distances, but very unevenly. They could provide security for trade and pathways for cultural diffusion, but their very spatial extent made them vulnerable to interlopers or agents whose activities were not confined to a single imperial power structure. What are the circumstances in which political power and node-network relations reinforced each other and what are those which potentially undercut imprial authority? Rather than assume long-term trends towards more territorial conceptions of power or other endpoints of political change, we want to leave open the question of how empires worked over a long period of time and in different spatial settings. The conference will incorporate a wide range of empires, whose connections worked through seaports and inland communication nodes, within and across continents, with special consideration for Asia but involving other continents as well.
The conference sessions are based on discussion of short pre-circulated papers that participants are asked to read in advance. Please contact Betty Banks (email@example.com) to RSVP and request access to the papers.