CfP: Transimperialities and women's agency in Africa during the colonial period

Call for papers, deadline 1 November 2021

The recent transnational and global turn in social sciences [1] has encouraged experts of colonial and imperial history to explore the history of colonial empires in the light of globalising effects [2]. Thus the notion of 'trans-imperiality', conceptualised by Daniel Hedinger and Nadin Heé [3], brings a renewal to the study of empires, to the point of imposing itself as a new field of study. The challenge is to go beyond the comparative analysis of imperial formations to focus on population movements, transfers of knowledge and goods between empires [4], but also to highlight the networks and exchanges of ideas between people fighting for the end of imperial dominations [5].
Colloquia on this new approach have increased in number since 2017, and they have revealed that the evolvement of the various empires did not occur in a vacuum, the territorial analysis to have been reductive and there to have been many exchanges, circulations and transfers influencing their construction and evolution [6].
The sine qua non of this method is to compare at least two imperial powers regarding the concomitant phenomena of connectivity, cooperation and competition. To what extent do these different forms of contact between empires generate transfers, changes and modifications?
Furthermore, colonial and postcolonial studies seem to focus on male perspectives (reports, memoirs of colonial administrators, military officers, missionaries, etc.) and on reductive territorial analyses, limited to the study of a specific colony, mostly ignoring African/Western women and the trans-imperial context in which the colonising powers compete and - sometimes - collaborate. The approach favoured here integrates the perspectives developed by postcolonial studies. They emphasize that trans-imperial history moves away from the 'Great Powers' game', from an imperial history limited to the main figures of power in Europe. Other scales are chosen. The research is interested in the 'grassroots levels', in the anonymous actors [7] whom the historical narrative has long ignored. It is important to study the trans-imperial trajectories of women colonisers and, in particular, to listen to the colonised, to analyse their perception of imperialism; to show what agency they had [8]. This conference, combining questions on trans-imperialities and female agency, aims to explore developments in Africa over time, from the 19th century to the present day.

Paper proposals might be submitted in the following topics (which are not exclusive):
Axis 1 - Women's perspectives on "other" empires: (trans)imperial comparisons
- Western or African women
- Western women's views of African women: female solidarity or racist exploitation?
- phenomena of imitation, transfer or rejection, views of other empires or colonies: comments, comparison ;
- Views of African women.
Axis 2 - "Going to the colonies" and experiencing trans-imperiality: crossed destinies of Western women in Africa.
- their journeys in another colonial empire; their experience of different successive colonial empires;
- their journeys in different colonies of the same empire;
- trans-imperial connections between colonisers;
- Western women, victims of patriarchy and accomplices of colonialism [9].
Axis 3 - Circulations, exchanges and cultural transfers in Africa: trajectories of subalterns and agency
- connections, links, contacts ;
- trans-imperial agency ;
- possibilities and difficulties of trans-imperial connections between colonised people;
- transborder movements, especially between different colonial empires.

Geographical limitation
the entire African continent

More info:



[1] Akita Shigeru, « Introduction: From Imperial History to Global History », in Shigeru Akita (ed.), Gentlemanly Capitalism, Imperialism, and Global History, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, 2002, pp. 1-16.
[2] Thomas Martin, Andrew Thompson, « Empire and Globalisation: From ‘High Imperialism’ to Decolonisation », The International History Review, vol. 36, no 1, 2014, pp. 142–170.
[3] Daniel Hedinger, Nadin Heέ, « Transimperial History - Connectivity, Cooperation and Competition », Journal of Modern European History, 16, no. 4, p. 429-452, 2018 ; voir aussi : S. Banerjee, Transimperial. Victorian Literature and Culture, vol. 46, n° 3-4, 2018, p. 925-928,, doi:10.1017/S1060150318001195, page consultée le 29/08/2019.
[4] James R Fichter. (ed.), British and French Colonialism in Africa, Asia and the Middle East Connected Empires across the Eighteenth to the Twentieth Centuries, New York, Palgrave Macmillan, 2019.
[5] Op. cit p. 439.
[6] See in particular : The Production of Imperial Space. Empire and Circulations (18th-20th Centuries), Paris, 23/11/2017 – 24/11/2017 ; Transimperial Cooperation and Transfers in the Age of Colonial Globalization. Towards a Triangular History of Colonialism ? Erfurt/ Gotha, 22/03/2018 – 24/03/2018 ; Internationalization of Colonial Knowledge Production, Leipzig, 20/09/2018 – 21/09/2018 ; Pacific Russia : Transnational and Transimperial Perspectives on Modern Northeast Asia (from 18th Century until the 1930s), Bielefeld, 26/10/2018 – 27/10/2018 ; Moderne Transimperialitäten, 2019 - Paris ; Empire and Globalization(s) : Circulations, Exchanges and Trans-Imperial Cooperation in Africa, 19th-20th Century, 2019 - Lausanne. Parmi les colloques et workshops plus anciens, voir : Russland transimperial ? Grenzziehungen vom 18. bis zum 20. Jahrhundert, Köln, 21.01.2012 ; Les expériences coloniales allemandes : échanges, transferts, circulations (1850-1950), Strasbourg, 04/06/2013 – 05/06/2013.
[7] For micro-history of trans-imperiality, see M’Hamed Oualdi, A Slave between Empires. A Transimperial History of North Africa, New York, Columbia University Press, 2020. Alain MARIE (ed.) L’Afrique des individus, Paris, Karthala, 1997, 444 p.
[8] Anne Montenach, « Agency : un concept opératoire dans les études de genre ? », Rives méditerranéennes, n°41, 2012.
[9] Voir Thürmer-Rohr Christina, « Mittäterschaft von Frauen: Die Komplizenschaft mit der Unterdrückung », dans R. Becker et B. Kortendiek (éd.), Handbuch Frauen- und Geschlechterforschung: Theorie, Methoden, Empirie, Wiesbaden, Springer-Verlag, 2010, . p. 88