Resistance and Empire: New Approaches and Comparisons

Resistance and Empire: New Approaches and Comparisons

Nuno Domingos, Miguel Bandeira Jerónimo, Ricardo Roque (Research Group 'Empires, Colonialism, and Post-colonial Societies', Institute of Social Sciences, University Lisboa)
From - Until
26.06.2016 - 29.06.2016
Bandeira Jerónimo, Miguel

Since the early twentieth century, the notion of resistance became common currency in colonial language and anti-colonial ideologies to refer to military, political, and other forms of countering the authority of the colonizing institutions and agents in the colonies. After World War II and the boom of decolonization, it became an important tool in the critical and conceptual analysis of colonialism as a relationship of domination and opposition. Consequently, a wealth of studies was produced that focused on the ways though which indigenous people actively opposed, rebelled, or contested – militarily, politically, symbolically, culturally – the colonizing presence of Europeans. In the 1990s-2000s the validity of taking on “resistance” as a privileged concept and empirical topic was criticized for reducing the colonial phenomenon to a simplistic dichotomy – and since it appeared to have lost much of its early vitality in historical and anthropological research on empires and colonialism. Yet, since decolonization, ideas of “liberation” and anti-colonial resistance did not lose their significance as powerful tropes in retrospective nationalist readings of the birth of postcolonial nation-states. More recently, across the social sciences, “resistance” as a concept and a research trope seems to be revived, and a trans-disciplinary field of ‘resistance studies’ appears to come into emergence. What it means to study “resistance” both conceptually and comparatively in colonial and imperial history today? How can this notion be valuably re-conceptualized in current imperial and postcolonial studies? What are its potential and limitations? What phenomena should be considered under the notion of “resistance”? What specificities resistance(s) phenomena take over time and across spaces? How to address the plural manifestations of resistance comparatively, across different empires, different colonial situations, and different historical periods?

The conference Resistance and Empire: New Approaches and Comparisons aims at addressing these questions and rediscovering the vitality of resistance both as a concept and as an empirical phenomenon in the study of European empires, colonialisms, and their legacies. As such, it will invite students of French, British, Portuguese, German, and other European colonialisms to analytically address the multiple expressions of “resistance” in colonial history by engaging with empirical material and theoretical explorations. The conference has two main purposes. On the one hand, it will seek to cross-fertilize the study of anti-colonial resistance(s) as a multiple historical phenomenon across the different geographies and temporalities of the European overseas expansion in Asia, Africa, America, and Oceania since the sixteenth century. On the other hand, it will reassess the potential and limitations of “resistance” as an analytical concept in imperial history, anthropology, and postcolonial studies, relating it to other notions in these domains, such as “order”, “rule”, “protest”, “rebellion”, “subaltern”, “agency”, or “domination”. The conference will adopt a broad conceptual, geographical and chronological framework, encouraging a comparative examination of “resistance” in relation to diverse places and historical periods. We particularly welcome students working on all Western forms of colonialisms and imperial formations, in any historical situation and spatial location, from the sixteenth to the twentieth-first century. We invite paper proposals from senior scholars, early career researchers, and post-graduate students that draw on concrete and specific empirical materials whilst reflecting conceptually and analytically on one, or more than one, of the following topics:

- Nationalist ideologies and liberation movements
- Resistances to decolonization
- Religious movements
- International and transnational engagements
- Armed rebellions and revolts
- Indigenous agency
- Cultural dimensions of resistance
- Forms of everyday resistance
- Archival and methodological aspects of resistance studies

Keynote speaker: Professor James C. Scott (Yale University)

Please submit a 250 words abstract and a brief exposition of current research and interests, by email to: resistance&
Deadline for submission of paper proposals (abstracts): 31 December 2015
Selection of paper proposals and communication to participants: 31 January 2016

Pre-circulation of summary papers to discussants: 30 May 2016

Registration required (more information in Jan. 2016)*


Contact (announcement)

Nuno Domingos /Miguel Bandeira Jerónimo / Ricardo Roque
Email: resistance&
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