Call for Papers: “(Re)Imagining Empire” II

To follow up last year’s successful series of Borghesi-Mellon workshops on “(Re)Imagining Empire,” the organizers invite interested UW-Madison faculty and graduate students to propose papers for three further colloquia to be held during the 2019-2020 academic year (“(Re)Imagining Empire: Expression, Economy, Identity”). Last year’s series explored the diverse ways in which empire has been imagined – and re-imagined – in antiquity, early modernity, and across the contemporary globe, with a special focus on how Rome’s multiethnic empire and its historical memory can challenge nationalist and Eurocentric perspectives on power. This year’s workshops will delve deeper into empire’s consequences for art and writing, the economy and environment, and questions of ethnicity and identity. It aims to give campus scholars an interdisciplinary venue to work through new ideas and prepare them for publication with expert outside advice.

Colloquium 1: (Re)Imagining Empire through Art and the Environment

Verity Platt (Classics and Art History, Cornell University) will deliver a keynote address on the relations between art and nature, empire and the environment, in the imperial Roman imagination, with a focus on the transportation of artistic objects and materials across media, geographic, and environmental contexts. Sean Gurd (Ancient Mediterranean Studies, University of Missouri) will run a lunchtime roundtable workshop on scholarly writing that transcends disciplinary boundaries and reaches beyond academe. The theme here is translation: of art across different environments, but also of intellectual expression across disparate media, disciplines, and audiences. Those interested in joining the lunchtime workshop specifically should submit a 200-word pitch on how you would benefit from participation, and outlining the project you hope to present and discuss. We also solicit regular 250-word abstracts on topics related to imperial art and environments, as well as all the topics that follow below.

Colloquium 2: (Re)Imagining Imperial Inequalities and Opportunities

This workshop will explore imperial economic practices — from Athens and Rome to the modern ‘globalized’ economy — alongside their political, social, and legal consequences. Do resource extraction, exploitation, migration, and human trafficking inevitably accompany imperialism, and if so, how, why, and to what effect? What about opportunities for cultural contact, education, and advancement? We plan to invite Jennifer Pitts (Political Science and Social Thought, University of Chicago) to deliver a keynote on empire and international law and hope to schedule this workshop in February, with input from participants.

Mini-Conference: (Re)Imagining Identity and Diversity in the Shadow of Empire

This mini-conference revisits a question central to last year’s workshops – do empires do better than nation-states at fostering diversity? – while digging deeper into empire’s effects on race and gender relations. We solicit papers on any of these topics and hope to invite major scholars on postcolonial responses to empire as well as scholars on empires historically elided by Eurocentric scholarship, e.g. the Byzantines’ use of Rome as a unifying, trans-ethnic identifier. This event will be scheduled in late spring, likely April, with input from participants.

Submission details:

Abstracts (of approximately 250 words not including bibliography) for papers on any of these topics, or 200-word pitches for publications-in-progress to workshop during the November 22 event, are due on or before noon on Monday, October 21, 2019, to Daniel Kapust (Political Science,, Nandini Pandey (CANES,, or Grant Nelsestuen (CANES,, who can also be contacted with any questions. You may apply both to give a paper and to participate in the workshop; we will determine which event your work best fits. Please indicate any known unavailable times on Friday Nov 22 and Fridays in February and April.

Submission deadline: October 21, 2019 (noon)

Event date: November 22, 2019