Event Announcement: After Networks: New Approaches to British Imperial History, c.1750-1970

9 04 2013

Date and Location : 19-20 April, Humanity Manse and College Bounds, University of Aberdeen

In recent years, the study of the British empire has increasingly been driven by a focus on networks. Scholars have devoted considerable attention to reconstructing and conceptualising the various ‘imperial networks’, circuits, and circulations of people, ideas, and (to a lesser extent) resources that permeated the empire. The network turn has coincided with broader anti-structuralist trends and a resultant diffusion of network theory, transnational approaches, and attention to the study of globalisation across the humanities and social sciences. The turn has generated many fruits, highlighting the complex interconnections throughout the empire (and among colonies as well as between colony and metropole). Yet while the necessity of the network concept is well established, doubts are surfacing as to its sufficiency as a mode of analysis:

  • How and why do networks form and evolve?
  • Are some places more densely connected than others and if so why?
  • How do networks interact with institutions?
  • Should an attention to connectivity be tempered through a consideration of disconnection and dislocation?

The symposium aims to facilitate more nuanced and contextualised understandings of the value and limitations of networked approaches. It will do so by bringing togetherspeakers to offer papers (and ample time allocated for discussion) reflecting on networked approaches to the history of global empire, drawing perspectives from their own research.

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