CFPs in Renaissance Intellectual History

New World Orders: Violence, Sanction, and Authority in the Early Modern Americas, 1500-1825

Source of Information: H-IDEAS 2000-09-08
Date of Event: 2001-10-19 to 20
Location of event: Philadelphia, USA
Deadline for abstracts etc.: 2000-12-01

Call For Papers
McNeil Center for Early American Studies:
New World Orders:
Violence, Sanction, and Authority in the Early Modern Americas, 1500-1825

         The McNeil Center for Early American Studies (
invites paper proposals for a conference entitled "New World Orders:
Violence, Sanction, and Authority in the Early Modern Americas, 1500-1825,"
to be held in Philadelphia on October 19-20, 2001. This conference will
explore the wide variety of extralegal means by which social order was
maintained in the early Americas, with a particular emphasis on how
extralegal sanctions were defined and used; how extralegal sanctions
related to legal forms of maintaining order; and how these patterns of
sanction, embedded within other forms of colonialism and culture, created
cultural, legal, social, or imperial "spaces" in the Americas.
         The organizers have three interrelated aims. The first is to
rethink the assumption, still implicit in many accounts of American
colonization, that European discourses of law and authority operated as the
dominant cultural authority in the early Americas. By calling this
assumption into question, this conference may help scholars begin to see
more clearly the relationship of "law" as a cultural form to other domains
of social and cultural life. The second aim is to interrogate the
relationship between various forms of authority and the construction of
"space" in the early Americas. In essence, this conference will explore the
ways in which spaces were constructed through assertions of sovereign
authority over those spaces, whether legally, politically, or religiously.
In other words, this conference aims to move beyond Western notions of
legal sovereignty and to see the ways in which attempts to create colonial
centers of power through sanctions of various kinds were inextricably
linked to the creation of imperial boundaries, and vice versa.  Third, the
organizers hope to explore these questions in a way that connects
historiographies of British, Spanish, French, Dutch and Portuguese
colonization to the history of the Atlantic world as a whole.
         Topics may include (but are not limited to) explorations of the
construction of sacred, gendered, and racialized spaces in everyday life;
the role played by material culture and the built environment in defining
colonial authority; the relationships between legal and extralegal
discourse in the constitution of colonial power; patterns of violence,
sanction, and war in colonial borderlands; notions of colonial space and
sovereignty in theory and practice; or the evolution and hybridization of
European, African, or Indian modes of maintaining order in creole American
settlements. The conference organizers encourage scholars to interpret the
conference themes broadly in crafting their proposals.
         The organizers invite proposals from scholars working in all
disciplines to apply. Proposals should include a brief c.v. and a
three-to-five page prospectus explaining the substance of the proposed
paper, the sources to be used, and the topic's relationship to the
conference themes. Those invited to participate in the conference will be
asked to submit papers of approximately 30 pages in length by August 15,
2001 for pre-circulation to conference attendees. A steering committee
composed of Matthew Restall (Pennsylvania State University), Thomas
Humphrey (Cleveland State University), and John Smolenski (University of
Pennsylvania) will screen proposals and arrange sessions and commentators.
Direct questions to or
Send three copies of the proposal to: New World Orders Conference, MCEAS,
3619 Locust Walk, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6213. Proposals must be post
marked by December 1, 2000.

John Smolenski
Department of History
University of Pennsylvania
Suite 352B
3401 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6228