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Between national rivalry and inter-imperial cooperation: European encounters in the world, 1870 – 1919

Entre rivalités nationales et coopérations impériales : rencontres européennes dans le monde de 1870 à 1919

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Published on Tuesday, April 25, 2017


Comment les acteurs des différents empires européens se sont-ils rencontrés au-delà de leurs territoires impériaux entre 1870 et 1919 ? Ce champ d’investigation n’a été que peu abordé dans les récentes recherches sur les coopérations impériales. Cependant de nombreux contextes d’interactions et d’échanges inter-impériaux se produisaient également en dehors du monde colonial européen : dans l’Empire ottoman, en Chine ou en Amérique du Sud.



In recent years research perspectives on empires and inter-imperial relations have changed in fundamental ways. Influenced by transnational and global history, researchers have developed new questions which challenge established narratives of imperial expansion. The focus on various entanglements and exchange processes at state and private levels across different empires uncovered numerous examples for cooperation and interaction between empires. These findings have fundamentally changed historiographical perspectives on European empires and have paved the way for an innovative field of research that investigates interactions and exchange processes between European actors of different empires. However, researchers have so far mostly focused on interrelations within or between the territorial possessions of European empires. The multi-faceted informal, private, or semi-official relations in regions which were not under the formal control of European empires have not been much in the focus of research.

The workshop “Between National Rivalry and Inter-Imperial Cooperation: European Encounters in the World, 1870 – 1919” contributes to those recent trends and aims to overcome a research frame on inter-imperial interactions that is still very often fragmented along national lines. To do so we propose to address the following questions: In what ways did actors from Europe meet and face each other during the phase of the so-called “high imperialism” outside of their own imperial territories? What were the self-images and mutual perceptions that existed among them? Did they share common identities or did national rivalries prevail in these situations? How did the existence of these forms of cooperation and rivalry affect (imperial) practices and transfers into the respective empires?

The main aim of the workshop is to broaden the existing perspective on encounters of European empires on three levels: Firstly, the actual area of investigation shall be extended to European encounters in territories that were not formally controlled by the powers and actors meeting in these areas. At the same time, we shall identify the potential consequences that these encounters between 1870 and 1919 had on Europe. This period of investigation allows us to make out changes in the nature of inter-imperial encounters by combining them with more traditional “turning points” in history. This allows us on a second level to discuss the relevance of the category “European” for these historical actors. Methodologically the workshop goes beyond the still dominant focus on one Empire or on bi-national comparisons by bringing together analyses of actors of three or more European empires. And thirdly, the official conference languages French and German (besides English) shall encourage alternative historiographies to the anglophone empire-historiography.

The workshop invites junior researchers of all disciplines who investigate European history in imperial contexts with a focus on the late 19th and early 20th century. Possible fields of research of the applicants can be but are not limited to: encounters in the form of international railway syndicates in China, humanitarian missions in the Ottoman Empire, interactions between European settlers in North Africa, encounters of religious representatives such as in Swiss missionary societies in territories outside of Europe, and European war volunteers in South Africa. The contributions should address one or more of the following questions:

1)     Questions of self- and external characterization

Which identities dominated when it came to interactions outside of territories formally controlled by the actors? How did the actors of different empires meet? Did they for instance perceive themselves as representatives of a profession, of different nations or of a common faith? Or did “racial theory” and the presence of a “third” non-European other contribute to a collective identity as Europeans?

2)     Questions of practices of inter-imperial interactions in spaces outside of the territories formally administered by the interacting powers and actors.

How did the dynamics of the European nation-states affect inter-imperial interactions? What influence did these interactions have on practices of (mutual) observation and the production of knowledge? What practices of power and informal authority came to play in these interactions?

3)     Questions of repercussions and consequences.

How were inter-imperial interactions and co-operations received in the home countries of the actors involved in them? What consequences did the encounter, the delimitation or cooperation “on the spot” have? Can we identify influences on imperial biographies?

The official workshop languages will be German, French and English. Participants are required to hand in and present their papers in one of these three languages. The passive knowledge of at least one of the other languages is expected.

Guidelines submission

Interested candidates are kindly asked to submit a short abstract of their prospective presentation (title plus short résumé, ca. 300 words) as well as a short academic CV (including some indication about their proficiency in the workshop languages)

by May, 28th 2017

via email (subject line “European Encounters in the World”) to the organizers (dominique.biehl@unibas.ch and niko.rohe@uni-bielefeld.de).

The expenses for accommodation will be covered. In exceptional cases a travel allowance can be granted.

For further information, please contact one of the organizers.

Organizers and selection

  • Dominique Biehl (Université de Bâle)
  • Niko Rohé (Université de Bielefeld)



  • Institute for European Global Studies
    Basel, Switzerland


  • Friday, October 06, 2017
  • Saturday, October 07, 2017


  • Europe, empire, histoire impériale, monde, coopération, rivalité, jeune chercheur


  • Niko Rohe
    courriel : militaergeschichte [at] uni-bielefeld [dot] de
  • Dominique Biehl
    courriel : dominique [dot] biehl [at] unibas [dot] ch

Information source

  • Niko Rohe
    courriel : militaergeschichte [at] uni-bielefeld [dot] de


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« Between national rivalry and inter-imperial cooperation: European encounters in the world, 1870 – 1919 », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Tuesday, April 25, 2017, https://doi.org/10.58079/xfu

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