HomeRevolutionary cosmopolitanism. Transnational migration and political activism, 1815-1848

HomeRevolutionary cosmopolitanism. Transnational migration and political activism, 1815-1848

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Published on Tuesday, February 04, 2020


The period 1815-1848 not only was characterized by several waves of revolution in Europe, the Atlantic world and beyond, but also by large movements of migration. Although these migrations can often be associated with political uprisings, only few connections have been made between the study of migration history and history of political thought and practices. This one-day conference aims to bring together these different strands of research and to discuss how experiences of migration and cross-boundary mobility contributed to the formation of common revolutionary cultures in the period 1815-1848.



12 June 2020, Queen Mary University of London

Keynote Speaker: prof. Maurizio Isabella (QMUL)


Napoleon’s fall and the settlement of the Vienna Congress in 1815 in no way represented the end of the era of revolutions and political uprisings. To the contrary, several waves of revolution would follow in the Atlantic world in the 1820s and 1830s, culminating in the 1848 ‘springtime of the peoples’ in large parts of Europe and beyond. These subsequent waves of revolution are increasingly studied from transnational perspectives focussing on, for instance, Mediterranean connections in the 1820s (Isabella and Zanou 2016), a ‘common European revolutionary culture’ in 1848 (Freitag 2003) or the global context (Armitage and Subrahmanyam 2007).

The same period saw large numbers of people moving beyond state boundaries: tens of thousands of young German craftsmen found employment in Paris and London; impoverished Germans and Irish crossed the Atlantic in search for a better life in the United States; the suppression of the Polish November Uprising in the beginning of 1831 led to what is known as the Great Polish Emigration; and several thousand free Black Americans settled on the coasts of West Africa creating new societies such as Liberia. Apart from these large-scale movements, a couple of individual cases are well-known, such as Garibaldi’s activities in Latin America or Robert Owen’s attempts to create a self-sufficient community in Indiana. In addition, expanding colonialism and increasing cross-boundary traffic led to the mobility of ever larger numbers of seamen, soldiers, colonizers and colonized. Following Jan and Leo Lucassen’s model for cross-cultural migration (2009), these movements of people have to be considered genuine forms of migration too.

Although many of these migrant movements can be associated with political uprisings, only few connections have been made between the study of migration history and history of political thought and practices. Migration history, with its roots in labour history, tends to focus on social and economic aspects of migration and ignores how migration informed the transfer of ideas. Research on revolutionary cosmopolitanism concentrates on the eighteenth century and presumes that cosmopolitanism came to an end after the 1789 French Revolution due to the rise of nationalism (Palmer 1959; Polasky 2015). That this has hardly been contested so far is due in part to the fact that nineteenth-century revolutionaries are still mostly researched in national contexts, leaving aside their transnational connections, the imperial geographies in which many of them operated, and their experiences of migration (as is shown by Panter 2015).

This one-day conference aims to open a conversation between these different strands of research. How did experiences of migration and cross-boundary mobility contribute to the formation of common revolutionary cultures in the period 1815-1848? To what extent did revolutionary cosmopolitanism survive into the first half of the 19th century? What forms of interplay existed between transnational migrations, cosmopolitanism, the rise of nationalism and imperial reform movements? These are the questions this conference intends to address.

We invite submissions from researchers in the history of political thought, cultural history, migration history and nationalism studies, working on different geographical areas in the period 1815-1848. Postgraduate and early career researchers are especially encouraged to apply.

Possible topics include

  • diasporic nationalism;
  • transatlantic migrations and political upheaval;
  • abolitionism, black emancipation and migration;
  • diaspora and connected Mediterranean revolutions;
  • imperial reform movements, nationalism and international order;
  • exile and revolutionary activism;
  • political activities of working-class migrants;
  • political practices in migrant communities.

Submission guidelines

To submit a paper or propose a panel, please email a short C.V. alongside an abstract to c.creyghton@qmul.ac.uk. Abstracts should be no more than 300 words for papers of 20 minutes in length. The call for papers will close on 23 March 2020 at 23.59 GMT. Successful applicants will be notified no later than 6 April.


  • Camille Creyghton (QMUL/Univesity of Amsterdam)

This conference is part of the project ‘Revolution in exile: Transfer of ideas among émigré intellectuals in Paris and London, 1815-1848, funded by the Dutch Research Council. For postgraduate, early career researchers and researchers without regular funding coming from outside London, travel expenses will be subsidized up to an amount of £ 70.

For any additional information or queries, please contact: c.creyghton@qmul.ac.uk

See also: https://revolutionarycosmopolitanism.blogspot.com/

Scientific Committee

The papers will be selected by the organizer and the keynote speaker

  • Camille Creyghton (QMUL/University of Amsterdam)
  • Maurizio Isabella (QMUL)


Armitage, David, and Sanjay Subrahmanyam (ed.), The Age of Revolutions in Global Context, c. 1760-1840, Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010.

Freitag, Sabine (ed.), Exiles from European Revolutions: Refugees in Mid-Victorian England, New York: Berghahn Books, 2003.

Isabella, Maurizio and Zanou, Konstantina (ed.), Mediterranean Diasporas: Politics and Ideas in the Long 19th Century, London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2016.

Lucassen, Jan, and Leo Lucassen, “The Mobility Transition Revisited, 1500–1900: What the Case of Europe Can Offer to Global History,” Journal of Global History 4, no. 3 (November 2009): 347–77.

Palmer, R. R. The Age of the Democratic Revolution: A Political History of Europe and America, 1760-1800. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1959.

Panter, Sarah (ed.), Mobility and Biography. Jahrbuch Für Europäische Geschichte 16, Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter Oldenbourg, 2015.

Polasky, Janet L., Revolutions without Borders: The Call to Liberty in the Atlantic World. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2015.


  • Queen Mary, University of London
    London, Britain


  • Monday, March 23, 2020


  • Revolutionary culture, political thought, political practices, migration, diaspora


  • Camille Creyghton
    courriel : c [dot] creyghton [at] qmul [dot] ac [dot] uk

Information source

  • Camille Creyghton
    courriel : c [dot] creyghton [at] qmul [dot] ac [dot] uk


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

To cite this announcement

« Revolutionary cosmopolitanism. Transnational migration and political activism, 1815-1848 », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Tuesday, February 04, 2020, https://doi.org/10.58079/14cp

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