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CfP: Power and Change in the Americas in the Modern Era

Power and Change in the Americas in the Modern Era
University College London
April 30 - May 1, 2015

DEADLINE 15 November, 2014

The UCL Americas Research Network is pleased to invite scholars to participate in its first International Postgraduate Conference. This two-day conference seeks to cater to an international community of postgraduate and early-career researchers of the Americas from across the humanities and the social sciences. We welcome paper proposals that address the overarching theme of the conference.

Power and Change in the Americas in the Modern Era

Geographically, this includes the whole Western Hemisphere (Central, South, and North America, as well as the Caribbean). By adopting a broad, hemispheric perspective, we hope to encourage debates that extend beyond the boundaries of the nation-state, and to question the validity of cultural divides that often limit research agendas and enclose perceptions of complex problems and communalities.

The conference, organized by UCL Americas Research Network, especially invites doctoral students and early career researchers whose work ranges both geographically and temporally, and will encourage interdisciplinary conversations on national, regional and local topics and those whose focus is comparative, transnational and global. By facilitating a space to have these discussions, this conference aims to create an ongoing platform and network for collaborative exchange.

The structure of the conference consists of the following three thematic approaches or streams across which different panels will be formed to addressing related topics in an innovative and interdisciplinary manner over the course of the two days.

  • Stream 1: Representations, Ideology, and Ideas of Change

    The end of the Age of Enlightenment witnessed a renewed emphasis on humanism and the rights of man. These ideas directly impacted the upheavals in the British Colonies of America and in France at the end of the Eighteenth Century, irreparably changing the previously unassailable power structures of Old Europe. Within only decades, many other regions in the Americas followed this path of radical renewal and independence. As a result, the Western Hemisphere has spent its time since then wrestling with the challenges stemming directly from these seismic changes. Since this modernist assault on traditional institutions of power, societies throughout the Americas have confronted these changes by developing new modes of thinking and innovative social practices. Thus, there has been an underlying tension and contestation of certain ideas that have a direct impact on our understanding of the world in which we now live

This stream seeks papers that address the overarching topics of “change” and “power” in the Americas in the modern era. For example, how have these communities in the Americas used these concepts in their attempts to understand themselves in terms of the nation? Or, conversely, how has their understanding of their own nationalism brought them into conflict with the forces of change and power? Within this, the evolutionary and revolutionary in the modern era of the Americas has brought about significant changes to the ways in which societies think and represent themselves. More, historical actors, either individual or collective, have ways of thinking and of representation that have brought them into conflict with the larger forces of change and power. This conflict, begun more than two hundred years ago, continues to affect communities in the Americas on a representational and intellectual level to this day.

We welcome the submission of papers within the following themes, although non-listed or broader topics are also encouraged:

  • Nationalism and other -isms of modernity
  • Conflict & Crisis
  • History of ideas and mentalities
  • Politics of memory & Identity
  • Gender
  • Discourses of representation and rights
  • Marginalized voices and struggles of recognition
  • Stream 2: Institutions, the State, and Governments

    Stream two focuses on political institutions and the State in the Americas. This will include the ways in which the State and associated institutions (non-state and governmental) have evolved over time and geographical space, the modes of interaction between States and institutions, both within and across countries, as well as with domestic, regional, and transnational actors.

Papers submitted to Stream Two may cover themes from across the spectrum of political interactions, encompassing debates around sovereignty and global governance, regional integration and subnational decentralization, and institutional design and practice, addressing the changing parameters of power and the political in the Americas in modern times. We encourage the submission of papers within the following themes, although non-listed or broader topics are also welcomed:

  • Regional cooperation and integration in the Americas
  • Electoral democracy in the Americas: candidates, campaigns, and voter behavior
  • Histories of state formation in the Americas- governing the social in modern times
  • Urbanisation in the Americas
  • Human Rights & Security

We welcome papers from across the humanities and social sciences that contain a geographical focus on the Americas, including North America, Central America the Caribbean, and South America. We particularly welcome papers that take an explicit comparative and interdisciplinary approach, and that can appeal to students and scholars of the Americas from diverse disciplinary backgrounds.

  • Stream 3: Contesting Power and Social Practices

    Social, economic and political changes in the Americas are processes in which social actors are both objects and subjects. Under the banner of modernization, development and globalisation, waves of changes from above have shaken and shaped the daily existence of individuals and collectives in the Americas. Confronted with these changes, historical and contemporary actors have followed distinctive paths, from support and passive acceptance to engagement with and active contestation to these changes.

This stream will investigate how different actors, individual or collective, engage and interact with multiple-layered power structures, the State and its institutions, and the wider social system. We focus on social actors whose interests and own understandings of well-being are in opposition to changes driven by capitalist globalisation and its multi-scalar political regimes.

Acknowledging asymmetrical power relations, our interest is put on both the processes of resistance and the emergence of from-below alternatives, driven by non-hegemonic subjects. This includes, but is not limited to resistance to economic and productive models and political and governance regimes; the contestation of hegemonic knowledge; and the bottom-up emergence of social and material alternatives in the everyday life of social subjects and movements. The analysis and study of practices, discourses and representations that subjects develop in their experiences and struggles, are part of the streams’ interests.

We welcome the submission of papers within the following themes, although non-listed or broader topics are also encouraged:

  • Agrarian movements and “peasantries” in transformation
  • Ecologies in dispute, commodification of life and nature, global productive regimes and ecologist alternatives
  • Feminism and gender perspective in indigenous groups and beyond
  • Contested knowledge, counter paradigms, alternative cultural and educative practices
  • Communicative arenas: mainstream and alternative media and disputed language
  • Communities, social identities and new collective subjects
  • Citizens’ insurgencies and alternative citizenships
  • Protest, social movements, regime legitimacy and political change
  • Cities in dispute, mainstream planning and contested urbanism

We hope to incite the participation of research post graduate students from the wide spectrum of the humanities and social sciences, as well as those working with interdisciplinary approaches. The wide geographical focus aims for papers addressing local, regional and global social movements rooted in the different geographical regions of the Americas (North, Central and South America, and the Caribbean).


If you are interested in participating, please indicate in your paper proposal the thematic approach in which you would like to participate. If you are unsure which one fits best, please do not hesitate to contact the organizing committee with any questions at:

The organizing committee invites all interested doctoral students and early-career researchers to submit abstracts, which should not exceed 300 words, as well as a brief biography of no more than 50 words, which should include your name, email, and institutional affiliation. The deadline for abstracts and paper proposals is November 15th 2014.

Please submit your abstracts to:

NB: This conference will be free to attend, both for speakers and for the general public, though prior registration for attendance without presenting a paper is essential. Details on how to register will follow shortly. Keynote speakers will be confirmed soon.


  • Deadline for paper-proposal submission: November 15th 2014
  • Deadline for paper submission: March 20th 2015
  • Conference: April 30th to May 1st 2015