Commodities and Environments in Early Modern Global Asia, 1400–1800

Commodities and Environments in Early Modern Global Asia, 1400–1800
The Call for Papers for ComEnv24 is now closed. Thank you for your submissions!

The international conference ‘Commodities and Environments in Early Modern Global Asia, 1400–1800’ is organized under the auspices of the European Research Council (ERC) Advanced Grant Project, CAPASIA ‘The Asian Origins of Global Capitalism’, hosted at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy. The conference explores the relationship between environments and commodities in early modern Global Asia between 1400 and 1800. It investigates the environmental consequences in these regions of the extraction, production and trade in commodities.

This conference aims to integrate multiple historiographies which have sometimes operated in mutual isolation: (i) the literature on material culture and commodities in global history; (ii) the growing field of environmental history; and (iii) studies in the history of science which have examined how the natural sciences and ethnography served Europe’s quest for trade, profit, and colonial domination.

Papers might approach the conference’s themes from a variety of different angles. Contributions could focus, for example, on one or more of the following areas of research:

  • Knowledge of the environment. What sort of ‘knowledge’ of these environments was produced during the early modern period? To what extent did visual depictions, surveying and mapmaking projects and geographical knowledge help foster commodity extraction, exploitation and trade?
  • Perceptions and imaginaries regarding the environments of Asia and the Indian Ocean World. To what extent did different representational forms condition the way various actors sought to transform, manipulate, develop and commodify these environments? Did these representations foster a political economy of ‘improvement’ of nature?
  • Ecological imperialism. What forms did ecological imperialism take and who were the actors involved in the wider commodification of nature? What commodities were developed and traded? How did the manipulation and transfer of crops and cultures unfold geographically and historically? To what extent did these processes alter the environments of global Asia? In what ways did local actors and local environments react to or resist these processes?
  • Urban environments. To what extent did the long-distance trade in commodities transform urban environments in the regions under scrutiny? What was the impact of the development of a ‘factory’ system on the environments of the cities and ports?

 Conference Particulars

This conference, organised within the ERC-funded project ‘CAPASIA’ will take place at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy on 13–15 November 2024. Keynotes will be given by Professor Jakobina Arch (Whitman College) and Professor Sujit Sivasundaram (Cambridge University)We invite proposals from scholars at all career stages, including early career. Papers will be selected on the basis of proposals submitted, and with the aim of ensuring a broad spread of topics for the conference. Submissions of Individual paper proposals should include:

• Name, affiliation, and contact information

• Paper title and abstract of 200-300 words

• A brief CV (2 pages maximum)

Send all submissions by email attachment in a single pdf to:

Deadline for Submissions: 20 February 2024, notification of accepted papers: 20 March 2024

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Stipends will be available for scholars in developing countries and early career researchers to assist towards the costs of travel and accommodation. To apply, please indicate in your application that you wish to be considered, stating the country from which you will be travelling.       

 This project receives funding from the European Union’s Horizon Europe research and innovation programme under the ERC grant agreement No 101054345