Myriad Materialities: Towards a New Global Writing of Colonial Ports and
Port Cities
10 and 11 July 2020
Ethnologisches Museum Berlin, Germany

Keynote Speakers:
Emily Clark (History, Tulane University)
Jin-Ah Kim (Musicology, Hankuk University of Foreign Studies &
Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin)

Myriad Materialities is a two-day conference organised by the Colonial
Ports and Global History (CPAGH) Network at TORCH, The Oxford Research
Centre in the Humanities, and the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. It will be
held at the Ethnologisches Museum Berlin on 10 and 11 July 2020.

This interdisciplinary conference draws attention to the materialities
‘beyond the marine’ of colonial ports and port cities, with a view to
re/assessing colonial contact and its longer-term impact, and the
concomitant circulation of goods and ideas across the centuries and
continents. Situating these peopled encounters and penetrating their
initial interface will shed new light on materiality and its mutability,
notably the conditions by which the negotiation of identities and
inscription of subjectivities are imbricated with different ecologies and

Our conference thus moves toward a new global writing of colonial ports and
port cities, exploring their myriad materialities through three
intersecting perspectives. First is the perspective of gender. We invite
participants to reflect on socially constructed underpinnings of
masculinity and femininity, their constant state of flux and the creation
of contested liminal spaces beyond binary frameworks. How can these nuances
offer new readings of gender through the material cultures of food,
entertainment and education, for example?

Second is the perspective of race. Our conference will examine how colonial
ports and port cities functioned as key sites not only of problematic
racial hierarchies, but also of global interactions and the resistance and
destabilisation of those hierarchies. We invite critical engagement with
notions of whiteness and their perpetuated discourses, also highlighting
the role, contributions and knowledge of non-white actors and agents.

Third is the perspective of class. This sees a renewed attention to issues
of social inequality and the wider systemic questions of
institutionalization and Eurocentrism, whilst weaving a more intricate
understanding of colonial presences and social structures. In what ways and
to what extent can there be more equitable ways of engaging with unheard
communities? We envisage socially-minded critiques and/or frameworks with
which to explore related concerns, notably distributive justice, archives
from below and their potentiality for articulating indigenous and other
neglected voices.

To this end, we invite researchers and practitioners to bring hitherto
discrete methods and practices, including but not limited to global
history, musicology, social anthropology, art history and literary studies
into closer interdisciplinary dialogue. At a deeper level, we hope to
foster a deeper understanding of colonial ports and port cities as spaces
defined and redefined by their myriad materialities.

We are delighted to have two distinguished keynote speakers. Emily Clark is
the Clement Chambers Benenson Professor in American Colonial History at
Tulane University. She specializes in early American and Atlantic world
history. Her research interests include race, gender, religion and
historical memory. Jin-Ah Kim is Professor at the College of Liberal Arts
at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, and Honorary Professor at the
Institute of Musicology and Media Studies at Humboldt-Universität zu
Berlin. Her research interests include transcultural processes and global
history from East Asian and ethnological perspectives.

Interested parties are asked to send an abstract of 250–400 words and a
brief (1–2 page) CV to
cpagh -at- Proposals are due 27 March 2020 by 11:59 pm GMT.
We strongly encourage submissions from researchers and practitioners from
underrepresented backgrounds. Co-authored papers (with no more than two
speakers) are also welcome.


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