HomeEmpire after the Emperor: From the Napoleonic Empire to the Age of Empire

HomeEmpire after the Emperor: From the Napoleonic Empire to the Age of Empire

Empire after the Emperor: From the Napoleonic Empire to the Age of Empire

L’empire après l’empereur : de l’empire napoléonien aux empires du XIXe siècle

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Published on Tuesday, October 22, 2019


This conference will explore connections between the Napoleonic conquests and the Age of Empire. First, we seek to reinterpret Napoleonic domination overseas, in Europe, and in France itself in the light of the New Imperial History and examples of nineteen-century colonization. Second, we wish to map the circulation of experiences and ideas by identifying the trajectories of individuals (military and civilian) who participated in the Napoleonic saga before moving on to other imperial ventures.


Conference organized by the CERDAP

with the support of the IUF and Columbia University

Sciences Po Grenoble, 17-19 March 2021


The Emperor is dead, long live empire!

To mark the bicentennial of Napoleon I’s death in 2021, this conference proposes to revisit the legacies of the Napoleonic Empire and rethink its relation to the Age of Empire. While we know a lot about the legend and afterlives of the Emperor himself, we are less familiar with what connects his conquests to imperial and colonial projects in the nineteenth century. Drawing both from the wealth of new research on the Napoleonic epoch published in recent years and broader disciplinary trends towards cultural and transnational histories, we hope to explore how The First Empire fed into the Age of Empire and, reflexively, how we might read it differently in the light of what would follow. By identifying connections, circulations, exchanges and lack thereof, we seek to decenter the period 1800-1814, to rethink its significance in a longer chronology and a wider geographical framework.

We encourage a wide range of proposals, and particularly ones that fit into these broad areas of interest:

  1. The Napoleonic empire in the light of the New Imperial History.

In what ways do the Napoleonic conquests prefigure the Age of Empire? Four decades after Orientalism, how do we understand the relation between Napoleon’s Egyptian campaign and nineteenth-century European constructions of “the Orient”? What is distinctly Napoleonic of the colonization of Algeria? How do recent works on slavery and capitalism force us to rethink the Napoleonic presence and legacy in the Caribbean? These are just some of the questions that emerge if we look either side of 1814 and seek to trace connections and ruptures across this traditional caesura in French history. Without denying a certain specificity to the Napoleonic epoch, it seems important to revisit it in the light of the historiographical renewal spurred by the New Imperial History—to ask new questions about gender and race relations, health and sexuality, environmental questions and how the empire existed “at home” in people’s daily lives and imaginaries.

  1. Imperial trajectories and the Napoleonic model.

While the French and European afterlives of Napoleonic administration and legal structures have been well studied, we know a lot less about the participation of Napoleonic actors in overseas empire-building after 1814. It is, of course, one of the great ironies of history that Napoleon inspired a long tradition of anticolonial fighters who went on to become charismatic military leaders in their own right (Toussaint Louverture and Símon Bólivar, only to name his most famous contemporaries).

But what of the officers and the soldiers, as well as the administrators, policemen, and scientists who, after the fall of the Empire, opted to recycle their expertise elsewhere, seizing opportunities offered by new transnational networks of mobility for people and ideas? It is worth asking what, exactly, the Napoleonic pedigree of so many soldiers and ex-soldiers who participated in the conquest of Algeria brought to the formation of France’s most important colony after the loss of Saint-Domingue (in terms of know-how, ideas and incorporated habitus, for example). Likewise, we should know more of what others brought to foreign powers whose influence they helped expand around the Mediterranean and across the Atlantic.

Nor should we focus exclusively on these French afterlives of empire: what of Wellington’s men who emigrated to build empire in Australia; of the Spanish guerrillas and Russian soldiers who, having defeated Napoleon, were sent to Latin America and the Caucasus to defend or expand their respective “national empires”? Without seeking to establish an exhaustive inventory of these examples, we hope to explore the significance of individual trajectories to the circulation of bodies and experiences in this early age of imperial globalization.

Submission Guidelines

Please submit proposals of c. 300 words with a brief CV to the conference organizers:

  • Aurélien Lignereux (Sciences Po Grenoble) aurelien.lignereux@iepg.fr
  • Thomas Dodman (Columbia University) td2551@columbia.edu

The deadline for submission is 15 January 2020.

Accepted speakers will be notified by late March 2020.

Accommodation and meals in Grenoble will be provided. Travel costs will be covered where necessary, but participants are urged to seek alternative funds for travel expenses if possible.

Organizing committee

  • Aurélien LIGNEREUX (Sciences Po Grenoble) aurelien.lignereux@iepg.fr
  • Thomas DODMAN (Columbia University) td2551@columbia.edu
  • Bigué DIENG bigue.dieng@cerdap2.fr

Scientific committee

  • Hélène Blais (ENS) 
  • Jacques-Olivier Boudon (Univ. Paris-Sorbonne) 
  • Michael Broers (Univ. of Oxford) 
  • Thomas Dodman (Columbia University) 
  • Aurélien Lignereux (Sciences Po Grenoble) 
  • Patricia Lorcin (University of Minnesota) 
  • Natalie Petiteau (Univ. d’Avignon et des pays de Vaucluse) 
  • Jennifer Sessions (University of Virginia)



  • Sciences Po Grenoble - Campus Université Grenoble Alpes
    Grenoble, France (38)


  • Wednesday, January 15, 2020


  • Nouvelle histoire impériale, empire napoléonien, impérialisme, conquête de l'Algérie, colonisation


  • Aurélien Lignereux
    courriel : aurelien [dot] lignereux [at] iepg [dot] fr
  • Thomas Dodman
    courriel : td2551 [at] columbia [dot] edu

Reference Urls

Information source

  • Aurélien Lignereux
    courriel : aurelien [dot] lignereux [at] iepg [dot] fr


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

To cite this announcement

« Empire after the Emperor: From the Napoleonic Empire to the Age of Empire », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Tuesday, October 22, 2019, https://calenda.org/688937

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