CFP: The Hakluyt Society Symposium 2021 – Decolonising Travel Studies

by Guido van Meersbergen, reposted from H-Atlantic June 14/06/2021

Decolonising Travel Studies: Sources and Approaches

11-12 November 2021 

University of Warwick (online)

Deadline for submissions: 1 July 2021

The close links between travel and European colonialism have long been acknowledged. Since the early modern period, forms of global travel and exploration have often produced and reflected unequal structures of power: between those who chose to travel and those forced to, those who claimed lands and those whose lands were claimed, and those whose voices were amplified and others whose voices were erased. Post-colonial, feminist, and other critiques have exposed the inequalities inherent in the history of travel, whilst increased attention to women travellers and travel writing in Arabic, Persian, Chinese and other languages is changing the ways in which this history is written. Nonetheless, for reasons of institutional culture and the availability and accessibility of sources, the academic study of travel remains largely skewed towards the accounts and perspectives of European men from a small number of former imperial nations.

To mark the Hakluyt Society’s 175th anniversary, the Hakluyt Society Symposium 2021 aims to take stock of the historiography on global travel and exploration and reflect on what a decolonised history of travel looks like in theory and practice. Hosted by the University of Warwick’s Global History and Culture Centre (GHCC), the online symposium will bring together students and academics working across historical periods in an interdisciplinary conversation around the sources, approaches, and perspectives required to decolonise the field. Abstracts (max. 300 words) are invited for 15-minute papers that engage with one or more of the following:

  • The historical development of and colonial legacies contained in travel and exploration studies, including primary source editions such as the 380+ volumes published by the Hakluyt Society since 1847.
  • Empirical case studies of underrepresented histories of travel, particularly those that focus on BIPOC, women, and/or LQBTQ+ travellers and perspectives.
  • The politics of the archive, and the ways in which particular methodologies have rendered certain demographics (women of colour, unfree people and disabled people, for instance) absent or invisible in the histories of colonialism and travel.
  • The theory and practice of decolonisation as it pertains to the history of travel, particularly with the aim of identifying future directions for the discipline.
  • Unpublished sources for the history of travel, ideally those which might be proposed for editing within the Hakluyt Society’s Third Series.

Please submit your abstracts and a brief biographical note to by 1 July 2021. Early career researchers and postgraduate students are particularly encouraged to apply.

Organising committee: Natalya Din-Kariuki (University of Warwick, English) and Guido van Meersbergen (University of Warwick, History). In collaboration with Medieval and Early Modern Orients (MEMOs). Download CFP.

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