Self and State: Exile in the Early Modern World
Cambridge (24-25 mars 2021), avant le 26 octobre 2020

University of Cambridge, United Kingdom 

Keynote Speakers:
Professor Peter Burke (University of Cambridge) 

Professor Juliette Cherbuliez (University of Minnesota)

Invited Speakers:
Dr Liesbeth Corens (Queen Mary, University of London) 

Professor Julian Swann (Birkbeck, University of London)
Dr Helena Taylor (University of Exeter) 


Christophe Gillain 

Lisa Nicholson

We are seeking proposals for 20-minute papers for our upcoming conference at the University of Cambridge. This two-day interdisciplinary conference draws together researchers on early modern exile. The early modern period (c.1500-1800) was an age marked by the displacement and forced migration of social groups and individuals around the world. In recent decades, scholars have paid closer attention to migration and mobility to uncover how movement in space and transnational connections affected early modern lives. Exile, however, remains a neglected part of this story.  

Too often, exile has been considered merely as one of the consequences of broader religious or political events, rather than a phenomenon worthy of study in its own right. This conference aims to highlight not just human movement in general, but particularly those features that set exile apart from other forms of migration. The coerced relocation of political and religious exiles during this period at once transformed the places in which they sought refuge, and those they left behind. The exilic experience could foster forms of cosmopolitanism and tolerance, but also cultures of suspicion and mistrust, as exiles found their loyalties interrogated both in their former countries and their new homes. Such tensions worked to reshape regional, national, political, and religious identifications, while calling into question notions of individual identity and selfhood. These broad considerations give rise to the twin themes of our conference: self and state.  

The key concepts of the self and the state were interrogated, constructed, and reinvented through the actions and writings of exiles and exile communities, as well as the ways in which governments responded to them. The conference encourages speakers to consider how these concepts influenced the political, religious, and practical realities of involuntary relocation, as well as (auto)biographical and fictional literatures of exile.  

Papers at the conference might encompass any of the following (non-exhaustive) themes: 

-Forms of exile (religious, political, other) 

-Internal and/or external exile 

-Defining ‘exile’ and whether it is a useful category 

-Texts, literatures, and art of exile 

-Cosmopolitanism and/or (in)tolerance in exile 

-Issues of translation and cultural transfer in exile 

-Gendered nature and experiences of exile 

-Mobility, space, and geographies in relation to exile 

-Relics and material cultures of exile 

-Communication networks in exile 

-Role of exile in colonialist expansion  

-Kinship, patronage, and friendship in exile 

-Role of exile in state-building and diplomatic relations  

-Legal status and personal documentation of exiles 

The suggested topics are intended to be interpreted widely and to include a broad range of historical and literary approaches to exile. We especially invite early-career researchers and postgraduate students to submit proposals. 

Abstracts of no more than 250 words should be submitted to by 26 October 2020. Abstracts should include your name and email address. Given the current COVID-19 pandemic, it is possible that the conference may have to take place virtually. In your submission, please indicate your willingness to give a virtual paper.