Few themes are subject to as much cross-disciplinary inquiry as empire. From critical international relations theory on empire’s ideological dimensions to historians’ examination of the motivations and effects of imperialist states, from comparative diachronic studies of empire to analyses of empires’ continuing legacy through the lenses of post-colonialism or critical race theory, empire exerts a strong pull on the contemporary humanities and humanistic social sciences. The Borghesi-Mellon Workshop, “(Re)Imagining Empire,” will bring together a cross-disciplinary group of scholars and graduate students with a focus on the diverse ways that empire has been (re)imagined in antiquity, early modernity, the 18th and 19th centuries, and the contemporary world.
“(Re)Imagining Empire” will center on three day-long conferences; each conference will feature a keynote speaker and a mix of graduate student and faculty paper presentations. The first conference, to be held on November 2, 2018, will focus on Mediterranean antiquity, with particular attention on the Roman Empire. The second conference, to be held on December 7, will center on early modern, 18th, and 19th century Europe and the Americas, and will focus in part on how Rome itself was imaginatively reinvented in that period. Harnessing the insights of transnational history and post-colonial scholarship, the third and final conference will also explore imaginings of empire from a comparative perspective, e.g. Han Dynasty China and the Ottoman Empire. A key concern for all three conferences is to explore the place of empire in shaping our own perspectives on today’s globalizing world.