Texts in Motion: Schedule

– Saturday 12 May, 2018 –

Fisher Building, St John’s College, Cambridge


9.00-9.30              Registration

9.30-10.30            Panel 1: Archiving in world history

  • Mobeen Hussain (Cambridge), ‘Intertextual and ‘objective’ readings of archival material: a reflection on British Library collections’
  • Christopher Bahl (SOAS), ‘The Royal Library of Bijapur as a cultural entrepôt’

10.30-11.00           Coffee

11.00-12.30           Panel 2: Texts and materiality

  • Jeremiah Garsha (Cambridge), ‘Heads will roll: Chief Mkwawa’s head in motion’
  • Callie Vandewiele (Cambridge), ‘Weaving as reading: textiles in modern Guatemala’
  • Santos Roman (UC Riverside), ‘Photographic archives and memory of the South African war’

12.30-1.30              Lunch

1.30-3.00               Panel 3: Correspondence networks and textual communities

  • Anna Gilderdale (Auckland), ‘The periodical as pen-pal: the transnational world of youth correspondence in the Anglophone periodical press, 1880-1940’
  • Aoife O’Leary McNeice (Cambridge), ‘The power of subscribers to undermine textual authority in the report of the British Association for the Relief of Distress in Ireland, 1847-1848’
  • Pedro Feitoza (Cambridge), ‘Immigration, the transatlantic circulation of Bibles and tracts, and the making of a Lusophone evangelical movement, 1850-1900’

3.00-3.30               Coffee

3.30-4.30               Panel 4: Empires and information

  • Chris Gismondi (Concordia), ‘Northern lights, southern views: empire, exploration, and depicting the Arctic environment’
  • Naomi Warin (Cambridge), ‘News that spans empires: making international news in Algeria, 1954-1962’

4.30-5.30               Roundtable discussion

At the end of the scheduled proceedings, please join the convenors for dinner at Pizza Express to continue the conversation. (Please note that dinner will be at participants’ own expense.)

Although the conference will be run as a semi-closed workshop, it may still be possible to attend without presenting. Please email worldhistoryworkshop@gmail.com for further details.


Extended Deadline! 12 March 2018

The deadline for submissions for the Texts in Motion graduate conference has been extended to Monday 12 March 2018! To apply, please send an abstract (200-250 words) and a one-page current academic CV to worldhistoryworkshop@gmail.com – we look forward to receiving your submissions!

Call for Papers

Texts in Motion:

Materiality, Mobility, and Archiving in World History


12 May 2018

Hosted by the World History Workshop, University of Cambridge


The movement of people, commodities, and ideas has long attracted the attention of scholars of world history. Straddling the interstices between commodities and ideas, written texts have been a particularly productive subject of study. This one-day conference invites graduate students to reflect critically on the written and other physical sources on which their research depends as ‘texts in motion’ within world history. We welcome submissions which interrogate the material and political trajectories of particular texts, which foreground the power relations and truth regimes underpinning the archives of world history, which attend to the sensory and affective dimensions of working with the written word and physical texts.


We are particularly interested in texts like petitions which undergo multiple and varied movements across their life-histories. To highlight what is distinctive about texts in motion, we also encourage reflections on texts which appear fixed in place, and on the relationship between visual and oral sources, on the one hand, and written texts, on the other. And we invite critical reflections on what is lost – or gained – in our engagements with written texts as a consequence of the digitisation of archives.


The conference aims to bring together researchers working on various parts of the globe, including the Americas, Africa, Asia, Oceania, and Europe. We welcome papers on a wide range of themes, including but not limited to:


  • Texts in motion: from ‘fixed’ monuments to ‘mobile’ petitions and letters
  • Making text mobile: technological innovation, scribal labour, translation work
  • Architectures of power: colonial archives, catalogues, hierarchies, classification
  • Materiality: archives as repositories of paper, questions of lacunae, loss, and decay
  • Archives in motion: engaging displaced and migrated archives
  • Allure of the archives: tactile, interpretative, and emotional experiences of the archive
  • Digital histories: immateriality and the consequences of archival digitisation
  • Beyond text: visual sources, orality, and regimes of truth, accuracy, authority 


We encourage graduate students in any related discipline to apply, and welcome individual submissions as well as suggestions for themed panels. Our aim is to bring together researchers working on various parts of the globe, including the Americas, Africa, Asia, Oceania, and Europe, and across the many different scales of world history. To apply, please submit an abstract of 200-250 words and a one-page current academic CV to worldhistoryworkshop@gmail.com by 1 March 2018. Please include your name, institutional affiliation, and contact email address with your submission.



Organised by the conveners of the World History Workshop, University of Cambridge: Laura Channing, Annalise Higgins, Louise Moschetta, Ayse Polat, Tom Smith, and Chris Wilson. The convenors are grateful to the Faculty of History, University of Cambridge, for their support.