AAC : Revolutionary cosmopolitanism. Transnational migration and political activism, 1815 – 1848 — LIMITE : 23/​03/​2020

Informations pratiques

  • 12 June 2020, Queen Mary University of London
  • Organizer : Camille Creyghton (QMUL/​University of Amsterdam)
  • Keynote Speaker : prof. Maurizio Isabella (QMUL)
  • To submit a paper or propose a panel, please email a short C.V. along­side an abstract to c.creyghton@qmul.ac.uk. Abstracts should be no more than 300 words for papers of 20 minutes in length. The call for papers will close on 23 March 2020 at 23.59 GMT. Successful appli­cants will be noti­fied no later than 6 April.
  • For any addi­tional infor­ma­tion or queries, please contact : c.creyghton@qmul.ac.uk
  • See also : https://revolutionarycosmopolitanism.blogspot.


Napoleon’s fall and the settle­ment of the Vienna Congress in 1815 in no way repre­sented the end of the era of revo­lu­tions and polit­ical upris­ings. To the contrary, several waves of revo­lu­tion would follow in the Atlantic world in the 1820s and 1830s, culmi­nating in the 1848 ‘spring­time of the peoples’ in large parts of Europe and beyond. These subse­quent waves of revo­lu­tion are increas­ingly studied from transna­tional perspec­tives focussing on, for instance, Mediterranean connec­tions in the 1820s (Isabella and Zanou 2016), a ‘common European revo­lu­tionary culture’ in 1848 (Freitag 2003) or the global context (Armitage and Subrahmanyam 2007).

The same period saw large numbers of people moving beyond state bound­aries : tens of thou­sands of young German craftsmen found employ­ment in Paris and London ; impov­er­ished Germans and Irish crossed the Atlantic in search for a better life in the United States ; the suppres­sion of the Polish November Uprising in the begin­ning of 1831 led to what is known as the Great Polish Emigration ; and several thou­sand free Black Americans settled on the coasts of West Africa creating new soci­eties such as Liberia. Apart from these large-​scale move­ments, a couple of indi­vidual cases are well-​known, such as Garibaldi’s activ­i­ties in Latin America or Robert Owen’s attempts to create a self-​sufficient commu­nity in Indiana. In addi­tion, expanding colo­nialism and increasing cross-​boundary traffic led to the mobility of ever larger numbers of seamen, soldiers, colo­nizers and colo­nized. Following Jan and Leo Lucassen’s model for cross-​cultural migra­tion (2009), these move­ments of people have to be consid­ered genuine forms of migra­tion too.

Although many of these migrant move­ments can be asso­ci­ated with polit­ical upris­ings, only few connec­tions have been made between the study of migra­tion history and history of polit­ical thought and prac­tices. Migration history, with its roots in labour history, tends to focus on social and economic aspects of migra­tion and ignores how migra­tion informed the transfer of ideas. Research on revo­lu­tionary cosmopoli­tanism concen­trates on the eigh­teenth century and presumes that cosmopoli­tanism came to an end after the 1789 French Revolution due to the rise of nation­alism (Palmer 1959 ; Polasky 2015). That this has hardly been contested so far is due in part to the fact that nineteenth-​century revo­lu­tion­aries are still mostly researched in national contexts, leaving aside their transna­tional connec­tions, the impe­rial geogra­phies in which many of them oper­ated, and their expe­ri­ences of migra­tion (as is shown by Panter 2015).

This one-​day confer­ence aims to open a conver­sa­tion between these different strands of research. How did expe­ri­ences of migra­tion and cross-​boundary mobility contribute to the forma­tion of common revo­lu­tionary cultures in the period 1815 – 1848 ? To what extent did revo­lu­tionary cosmopoli­tanism survive into the first half of the 19th century ? What forms of inter­play existed between transna­tional migra­tions, cosmopoli­tanism, the rise of nation­alism and impe­rial reform move­ments ? These are the ques­tions this confer­ence intends to address.

We invite submis­sions from researchers in the history of polit­ical thought, cultural history, migra­tion history and nation­alism studies, working on different geograph­ical areas in the period 1815 – 1848. Postgraduate and early career researchers are espe­cially encour­aged to apply.

Possible topics include :

  • dias­poric nationalism ;
  • transat­lantic migra­tions and polit­ical upheaval ;
  • aboli­tionism, black eman­ci­pa­tion and migration ;
  • dias­pora and connected Mediterranean revolutions ;
  • impe­rial reform move­ments, nation­alism and inter­na­tional order ;
  • exile and revo­lu­tionary activism ;
  • polit­ical activ­i­ties of working-​class migrants ;
  • polit­ical prac­tices in migrant communities.

This confer­ence is part of the project ‘Revolution in exile : Transfer of ideas among émigré intel­lec­tuals in Paris and London, 1815 – 1848, funded by the Dutch Research Council. For post­grad­uate, early career researchers and researchers without regular funding coming from outside London, travel expenses will be subsi­dized up to an amount of £ 70.