Contact – Conquest – Colonization: Practices of Comparing between Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas, from Antiquity to the Present

Contact – Conquest – Colonization: Practices of Comparing between Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas, from Antiquity to the Present

Asst. Prof. Dr. Eleonora Rohland / Dr. Christina Brauner / Prof. Dr. Angelika Epple / Prof. Dr. Antje Flüchter / Prof. Dr. Kirsten Kramer (Bielefeld)
Center for Interdisciplinary Research (ZiF), Bielefeld University
From - Until
11.10.2018 - 13.10.2018
Eleonora Rohland

In September 2016, Bielefeld University was awarded a major national grant for a collaborative research center (Sonderforschungsbereich) on “Practices of Comparing.” This collaborative endeavor brings together an interdisciplinary group of scholars from five different faculties (history, literature, philosophy, law, and political sciences). With projects ranging historically from Antiquity to the twenty- first century and spatially from Europe to Southern India, West Africa, the Philippines and the Americas, our overarching aim is to uncover the dynamic force of practices of comparing for macro-scale historical transformation processes. We are hence shedding light on contexts within which comparison occurs, and on their role in processes of historical change, rather than looking at comparison as a method – a nuance that makes an important difference.

Within the context of this interdisciplinary research program, several groups work on instances of European, American, and Asian cultural contact, conquest, and/ or colonization, which seem to be particularly pertinent contexts to research practices of comparing. In getting to terms with the astounding and novel “realities” of Asian, African, and American cultures, Europeans drew on the ancient canon of knowledge and topoi that had emerged in the context of contact and conquest of Greek Antiquity in order to describe cultural phenomena.

With this conference, we aim to bring together scholars studying practices of comparing in situations of cultural contact, conquest, and colonization in different parts of the
world, throughout all historical epochs – antiquity to the present – and across disciplines.

Keynotes will be held by Prof. Peter C. Mancall (USC Dornsife), Prof. Demetrius Eudell (Wesleyan University), and Prof. Alexander Honold (University of Basel).


Contact – Conquest – Colonization
Practices of Comparing between Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas, from Antiquity to the Present

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Arrival and Registration

Welcome and Intro by the Organizers

PANEL 1: Gender and Marriage in China, the Philippines, and India
Chair: Ralf Schneider (Bielefeld)

Nadine Amsler (University of Bern)
„What Makes a Chinese Man a Man? Early Modern Jesuits’ Comparisons between European and Chinese Gender Arrangements“

Marya Svetlana Camacho (University of Asia & the Pacific)
„Bridging the Gap: Spanish Missionaries’ Perspectives on Marriage
in the Philippines in the Period of Contact“

Subhasree Ghosh (University of Calcutta)
“‘Our’ Women, ‘Their’ Women: Marriage and modernisation in nineteenth century colonial India”

Coffee Break

PANEL 2: Moors and Secret Societies in (North-)Africa
Chair: Marcus Hartner (Bielefeld)

Sara Mehlmer (Leibnitz Institute for European History (IEG) Mainz)
„Spain and its North African ‘other’ in the 19th century. Ambivalent practices of comparing“

Stepahnie Zehnle (University of Duisburg-Essen)
„Between „Cannibals“ and „Natural Freemasons”: The (Anti)Colonial History of Comparing Freemasonry to African Secret Societies“

EVENING LECTURE 1 Peter C. Mancall (USC Dornsife): “Edward Topsell’s Virginia Birds: American Nature and Early Modern European Colonization”
Chaired by Eleonora Rohland (Bielefeld)

20:15/ 20:30
Conference Dinner 1

Friday, October 12, 2018

PANEL 3: Surveying and Establishing Empires in the Americas
Chair: Anna Döneke (Bielefeld)

Marcelo Fabián Figueroa (University of Tucumán)
„To survey, to read, and to compare empires: the Malaspina expedition across colonial Spanish territories (1789-1794)“

Julia Engelschalt (Bielefeld University)
„Tropical Climates, Microbes, and American Empire: Comparative Practices in U.S. Tropical Medicine (1898-1910)“

Coffee Break

LUNCHTIME KEYNOTE Demetrius Eudell (Wesleyan University): “The Comparative Method of Göttingen University’s Wissenschaft vom Menschen”
Chaired by Angelika Epple (Bielefeld)

Lunch at ZiF

PANEL 4: Media, Literature, and Communication in Germany, India, and the U.S.
Chair: Silke Schwandt (Bielefeld)

Volker Bauer (Herzog-August-Bibliothek Wolfenbüttel)
“Global benchmarks of princely rule in the early 18th century? Transcultural commensurability, comparison and competition within the political series of the German publisher Renger (1704–1718)”

Tina Janssen (University of Warwick)
„The comparative method of Sir William Jones (1746-1794)“

Benno Nietzel (Bielefeld University)
„Comparison, Comparing and Modernization in International Communication Research during the 1950s“

Coffee Break

EVENING LECTURE 2 Alexander Honold (University of Basel):
"Same Sky, Different Soil: Geographical Difference in 18th-century Astronomy and its Impact on Literature"
Chaired by Kirsten Kramer

19:30/ 20:00
Conference Dinner 2

Saturday, October 13, 2018

PANEL 5: Barbarians and ‘Others’ in China and Mexico – and Methodological Considerations from ‘Underground’
Chair: Luise Fast (Bielefeld)

Eloise Wright (University of California)
„Writings about Civilisation on the Imperial Chinese Periphery, 1250-1700“

Ezekiel Stear (Pasadena City College)
„Entre nos: Comparison and Authority in the Epistolary of Antonio Valeriano“

Sophie Hueglin (Newcastle University)
„From Objects to Processes: petrification and liquification as concepts for cross-culture comparison“

Lunch at Westend

PANEL 6: The Construction and De-Construction of Race in the U.S. South and at Large
Chair: Julian Gärtner (Bielefeld)

Christian Pinnen (Mississippi College)
„Colonizing Race: How Laws of Bondage Shaped Race in America’s Colonial Borderlands“

Wilfried Raussert (Bielefeld University)
„We Wear the Mask’: Modern ‘Masks’, Reflexivity, and Black Practices of Comparison in the Harlem Renaissance“

Coffee Break

Conference Summary & Discussion
chaired by Antje Flüchter (Bielefeld)

Conference Dinner 3 (self-paid by everyone who wants to join)

Contact (announcement)

Jun. Prof. Dr. Eleonora Rohland
Arbeitsbereich für Iberoamerikanische Geschichte
Center for InterAmerican Studies (CIAS)
Fakultät für Geschichtswissenschaft, Philosophie und Theologie
Universitätsstr. 25
33615 Bielefeld