2007 awards

7th BIRTHA Conference: Informal Empire? Commerce and culture outside Britain's formal empire in the long nineteenth-century

26 to 27 January 2007
Organiser: Dr. Matthew Brown, Lecturer in Latin American Studies

Two day international conference planned for 26-27th January 2007 with speakers from the U.K, Europe and the Americas.
This major conference will explore nineteenth-century empire and imperialism from a comparative and interdisciplinary angle. The centre of attention will be Latin America, the region which received most attention from scholars interested in 'informal empire' when it was fashionable during the 1970s and 1980s. This body of work showed how, from at least 1870 onwards, Britain's investment in railways, banks and other infrastructure was hugely important in determining policy in several independent Latin American republics. This investment occurred under the threat of gunboat diplomacy - with British warships often stationed strategically outside ports to remind local elites to act in accordance with British interests. This combination of commerce and military might led some to consider Latin America as part of Britain's 'informal empire' until at least 1914. The subject is given contemporary relevance by comparisons often made with the hegemony of the United States of America over its southern neighbours, particularly post-1945.

Even since the 'cultural turn' in Latin American history, and the relative decline of explicitly Marxism-inspired economic or social studies, scholars have continued to study relations between Britain and Latin America in the nineteenth century. The emphasis on 'informal empire', however, has been rather lost in recent years, with cultural historians preferring to discuss less contentious issues of 'mutual constitution', 'entanglement' and 'fuzzy boundaries'. But does this mean that 'informal empire' is no longer a useful concept for areas outside of Britain's formal colonial control?

This conference will analyse the continued relevance of the concept of British 'informal empire' in the light of advances in the historiography of imperialism and studies of the nineteenth-century modern world. The conference is interdisciplinary in nature, with the participation of scholars of imperialism and colonial societies with backgrounds in history, geography, cultural and literary criticism. The comparative element will be twofold, on the one hand from studies of continuing Spanish, Portuguese and French colonialism/imperialism in the region, and on the other hand from experts on British imperialism - informal or otherwise - elsewhere in the world.

By combining a comparative perspective with the juxtaposition of economic and cultural approaches, and by proposing and debating alternative explanatory models, this conference may well breathe new life into the flagging concept of 'informal empire'. It will certainly illuminate the study of British imperialism, from which Latin America is usually conspicuous only by its absence, and provide a broad and sound basis for interpreting the complex processes of nation-building and state-formation in Latin America. The outcome of the conference will be a published collection of the best conference papers and, if there is interest, the creation of a research network.

8th Annual Conference: Invitation au Voyage: the exotic in French art and literature since 1800

3 to 4 March 2007

9th BIRTHA Conference: Concepts of Infection

28 to 31 March 2007
Organisers: Alexander Kosenina (German), Lesel Dawson (English), Alexander Bird (Philosophy), Michael Bresalier (Philosophy and HPS, Cambridge)

Conference: The laurel, the palms and the paean: Gardens of the Aesthetic Movement

30 June 2007

International conference on Perception, Action, and Consciousness (PAC): Sensorimotor Dynamics and Two Visual Systems

1 to 3 July 2007

Conference: Music, cultural history and the Wesleys

9 to 11 July 2007
Organiser: Department of Music

Conference webpage

Conference: British World

12 to 14 July 2007
Organisers: Kent Fedorowich (UWE) and Robert Bickers (Historical Studies)

5th Marks Conference and 9th BIRTHA Conference: Ruins and Reconstructions: Pompeii in the Popular Imagination

17 to 19 July 2007
Organisers: Shelley Hales and Joanna Paul

In the two hundred and fifty years since excavations began, Pompeii has became a major source of inspiration to western imaginations. The site, and the widely accessible creations it inspired throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries (novels, films, paintings, exhibitions, domestic interiors, souvenirs and guide books) brought antiquity into the public sphere of knowledge, to be shared between gentleman enthusiasts, middle-class readers and music hall audiences alike. More recently, whilst the physical state of the site itself has reached a critical state of decay, a surge of popular interest in Pompeii, a prototype ground zero, has seen the city, as imaginative tool, model of disaster and tourist hotspot, reach a wider audience than ever before.

This conference, sponsored by the Bristol Institute for Research in the Humanities and Arts, will explore the popular receptions and representations of Pompeii. Our aim is to provide a stimulating environment in which academics studying the city and its reception can be brought together with practitioners who have tried to bring Pompeii to life in media such as novels, painting, photography, documentary and journalism. Confirmed keynote speakers include Andrew Wallace-Hadrill, Mary Beard, Stephen Harrison, Stefano de Caro, Lindsey Davis and Victor Burgin.

11th BIRTHA Conference: Emancipation, Liberation, Freedom

26 to 29 July 2007