Consent in Early America, 1600-1900
Tuesday 10th-Wednesday 11th March 2015
Rothermere American Institute, Oxford University
The notion of consent plays an important role in our understanding of power in human society. It gives us a way to think about not only when choices are freely made, and when they aren't, but a whole spectrum that lies in-between.
Questions about consent are questions about people and social relations, about power and the state, and about freedom and its lack. These questions span micro and macro scales, from politeness at a Boston dinner table, to gangs of slaves cutting sugar in Louisiana, to establishing a national government in Philadelphia. The ability to give and to withhold consent helps to determine categories and dynamics of struggle, including gender, race, and class. Consent concerns the problems of coordinated action and coordinated ideas that, we suggest, determine social life and historical change—it's about who gets to decide, and how.
We invite contributors to share their ideas about these complex issues as they played out in the lives of early Americans and in the records of early American history, from the first colonisation to the end of the nineteenth century. Papers might look at:
· Marriage, sex, childhood, and domestic labour...or any other topic that engages “consent,” including papers that cross boundaries between fields and categories, using the notion of consent to draw new and unexpected connections.
· Slavery, wage work, share-cropping, and indenture
· Governments, constitutions, and the state of nature
· Crime, punishment, violence, and justice
· Medicine, public health, and notorious places
· Representation, writing, contract, and the law
Papers will be chapter-length (4,000-8,000 words) and pre-circulated, to maximise time for discussion on the day. Travel within the UK and accommodation for presenters will be provided for. The conference will take place from the afternoon of Tuesday 10th through to the evening of Wednesday 11th March, 2015. Graduate students and early-career researchers are particularly encouraged to submit proposals, which should be around 500 words, and accompanied by a CV. The deadline for proposals is 4th January 2015. Please get in touch if you have any questions!
Kathryn Olivarius and Tom Cutterham