CfP: Colonial Cities in Global Perspective

Call for Papers, deadline 1 August 2018

International Conference Colonial Cities in Global Perspective

Venue and date : Saint-Louis, Senegal, from December 10-12, 2018

Call for Papers

The Global History Network, the Cheikh Anta Diop University in Dakar, the Foundation Maison des Sciences de l’Homme in Paris, and the Institute of Advanced Study in Saint-Louis, seek papers for a conference on Colonial Cities in Global Perspective, to be held in Saint-Louis, Senegal, from December 10-12, 2018.

For over four centuries, the colonial city served as interface between the imperial powers and the peoples of Asia, Africa and Latin America. It functioned as fortified outpost, administrative center, trading portal, in some case as collection point for the overseas shipment of slaves, and always as a site of cross-cultural learning and experience. Coastal colonial cities exhibited tremendous diversity and common traits, shaped by the interaction among imperial governors and merchants, colonial capitalists and peasant laborers in their agrarian hinterlands, indigenous and immigrant populations, and highly diverse and challenging physical environments. In many ways their global role anticipated the role that urban theory has established for the contemporary global city—both as the market and industrial pole for a rural hinterland, and a site in an archipelago of cosmopolitan entrepots linked with their metropoles and developing a unique fusion of services and clienteles.

We seek papers that will examine coastal colonial cities in a comparative framework. Appropriate topics include patterns of settlement and spatial organization; administration, policing, sanitation and evolving economic profiles; labor and workers’ collective action; colonial cities’ position in global trade networks and their importance to the expansion of capitalism; trade links between urban and rural domains of production and consumption; formal and informal relations between ethnic communities; patterns of leadership and urban organization; distinctive cultural production; and historical legacies for post-colonial states.

We invite papers addressing the above themes from all periods of colonial history. Advanced research students as well as senior scholars are invited to apply for the conference. We will be able to cover travel costs for all invited presenters.


  • Please submit a single combined doc or pdf file including an abstract of no more than 500 words, along with a brief CV and mail it by electronic mail to with the subject line “ColonialCities2018” by August 1, 2018. The abstract can be in French or English, though we prefer English.
  • Scholars chosen to participate in the conference will have to submit the final version of their unpublished and original paper (of no more than 7000 words) no later than November 1, 2018.
  • In the body of the email, please include your name, affiliation, and the title of your project.
  • We recommend including a header with your name on every page of your submission.
  • In the case of papers with multiple contributors, we are only able to cover transportation costs for one person.

We are particularly interested in and encourage applications from the Global South. The conference languages will be French and English.

We will inform applicants by September 15, 2018 if they will be invited to Dakar. We will be able to support the travel of invited participants.

The Conference is funded by the Volkswagen Foundation, the Foundation Maison des sciences de l’Homme in Paris and the Department of History and Geography at FASTEF (Cheikh Anta Diop University in Dakar, Senegal), and is part of a series of academic initiatives of the Global History Network, a network of global history institutions including East China Normal University, Shanghai; the International Institute of Social History, the Netherlands; Lab Mundi at University of Sao Paulo, Brazil; Department of History, University of Delhi, the Weatherhead Initiative on Global History, Harvard University, USA, Université Cheikh Anta Diop, Dakar, Senegal, and the University of Göttingen, Germany.


Department of History and Geography, FASTEF, Cheikh Anta Diop University, Dakar
Institute of Advanced Study in Saint-Louis, Senegal
Weatherhead Initiative on Global History, Harvard University, USA
The Foundation Maison des Sciences de l’Homme in Paris, France