The Global History Network, the Cheikh Anta Diop University in Dakar, the Foundation Maison des Sciences de l’Homme in Paris, and the Institute of Advanced Study in Saint-Louis, will hold the conference Colonial Cities in Global Perspective, to be held in Saint-Louis, Senegal, from December 10-12, 2018.
For over four centuries, the colonial city served as interface between imperial powers and the peoples of Asia, Africa, and Latin America. It functioned as fortified outpost, administrative center, trading portal, in some cases as collection point for the overseas shipment of slaves, and always as a site of cross-cultural learning and experience. Colonial cities exhibited tremendous diversity as well as common traits, shaped by the interaction among imperial governors and merchants, colonial capitalists and peasant laborers in their agrarian hinterlands, indigenous and immigrant populations, and highly variegated and challenging physical environments. In many ways, their global role anticipated the role that urban theory has established for the contemporary global city – both as the market and industrial pole for a rural hinterland, and as a site in an archipelago of cosmopolitan entrepôts linked with their metropoles and developing a unique fusion of services and clienteles.
This conference aims to examine colonial cities in a comparative framework. Papers treat themes such as patterns of settlement and spatial organization; administration, policing, sanitation, and evolving economic profiles; labor and workers’ collective action; colonial cities’ position in global trade networks and their importance to the expansion of capitalism; trade links between urban and rural domains of production and consumption; formal and informal relations between ethnic communities; distinctive cultural production; and historical legacies for post-colonial states.
The conference brings together scholars from all corners of the globe to illuminate the history of colonial cities from many different perspectives, and to rethink the place of these cities in the contemporary world.