Call for Papers: Centre and Periphery in the Enlightenment

Posted in Calls for Papers by Editor on June 28, 2011

From the society’s website:

Centre and Periphery in the Enlightenment: The Annual Conference of the Werkgroep 18e Eeuw
Groningen, The Netherlands, 20-21 January 2012

Proposals due by 30 June 2011

In recent years, Enlightenment studies have moved away from a traditional national, most often Francocentric or Anglocentric focus toward a new view of the Enlightenment as an international process. New conceptual categories have emerged, including that of an international, transnational or Atlantic Enlightenment, while older categories such as the Republic of Letters have been revived. Yet these categories do not fully do justice to the power relations also underlying much Enlightenment debate, in the Low Countries and beyond. As attractive as the notion of a transnational Enlightenment may be, it obscures the unequal access to power of different participants in Enlightenment debate, not only in terms of geography but also related social, institutional, and gender identifications.

This conference would therefore like to ask whether the older concept of centre and periphery might be useful in addressing power discrepancies between participants in Enlightenment debates. In doing so, it takes up the provocative question formulated by one of the conference’s key-note speakers, Jorge Cañizares-Esguerra: whose Enlightenment was it anyway? Who defined what the Enlightenment’s central discourse and players were, and who defined its periphery? Can centre-periphery relations be perceived not only horizontally, i.e. across national borders, but also vertically, i.e. within them? What was the relation between various forms of regionalist consciousness and Enlightenment discourse? Topics that may be considered include, but are not restricted to:

• colonial discourse on / and the Enlightenment
• regionalism and Enlightenment
• the participation of ‘small’ or peripheral countries and regions to Enlightenment debate
• gatekeepers controlling access to Enlightenment discourse
• key institutions / mediators within larger configurations of power structures
• authors’ positioning as insiders / outsiders

Prospective speakers are invited to submit a 300-word paper proposal, together with a short bio-bibliographical statement, by 3oth June 2011 to the conference organizers: M.M.Lok@uva.nl and A.C.Montoya@rug.nl. Accepted proposals will be printed as abstracts in the conference booklet, together with high-resolution illustrations where relevant. Speakers will be asked to limit their papers to 20 minutes. The conference language will be English.

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From the society’s website:

The Werkgroep 18e Eeuw / The Dutch-Belgian Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies

The ‘Werkgroep 18e Eeuw’ endorses research into all aspects of eighteenth-century history in the Low Countries (Belgium and the Netherlands). The society is open to anybody who is interested in eighteenth-century history; both interested laymen and professional researchers alike. The Werkgroep intermediates between members and is a meeting place for all those interested in eighteenth century history. The Werkgroep approaches its objectives primarily through the organisation of annual conferences and the publication of the periodical De Achttiende Eeuw. By means of an electronic news letter, the Werkgroep keeps its members informed about conferences, calls for papers, guest lectures by foreign experts, and other current developments. Each year, the Werkgroep awards a the author of the most outstanding MA thesis on a topic concerning eighteenth-century history.

The Werkgroep 18e Eeuw was founded in 1968, when historians still regarded the French avant garde of the eighteenth century — the so-called Lumières or philosophes — as the model for European Enlightenment. Since then, the Dutch-Belgian Society and its counterpart societies have stimulated research of the Enlightenment in various national contexts, and in moderate and radical variants. As of the late seventeenth century, the Dutch Enlightenment appears to have been an important export product. Through the years, the Werkgroep has occupied itself increasingly with the history of the eighteenth century in the broadest sense; the Enlightenment is just a part of that history.

A second important development, nationally and internationally, is the growth of interdisciplinary research. Affiliated with the Werkgroep are not only literary and regular historians but also historians of art, theatre, architecture, religion, and law, as well as historians of science and cultural anthropology — both amateurs and professionals. The combination of historical approaches helps to achieve a comprehensive view of eighteenth century history. . . .

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