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Cultural Histories of Empire.
The 2023 annual conference of the International Society for Cultural History

19-22 June 2023
The Conference

The Conference
(meeting simultaneously with the Society for Global Nineteenth-Century Studies World Congress)

Call for Papers
1 March 2023 for proposals to be considered on a waitlisted basis only

Empire has been a persistent form of human organization and one of the primary mechanisms for the dispersion of cultural forms. Some of the earliest known empires include the great imperial formations in Mesopotamia in the second millennium BCE and in Persia and around the Mediterranean in the first millennium BCE. Over the past two millennia, empires have appeared in all regions of the world, including in the Americas (Tawantinsuyu), Asia (the Mughal Empire, Khmer Empire), Europe (the Austro-Hungarian Empire), Oceania (the Tu’i Tonga Empire), and Africa (the Mali Empire, the Songhai Empire). They have also cut across large swaths of the planet (such as the British, Spanish, and Dutch empires). Although decolonization was a defining historical process of the twentieth century, the expansionist efforts of nation-states today suggest that empire remains a political, military, and economic strategy and a geographic and cultural ambition.

For its first conference in Asia, the International Society for Cultural History invites paper and panel proposals on the theme of “Cultural Histories of Empire.” Historians and contextually oriented scholars working on any period or location are encouraged to explore (but are by no means limited to) the following topics:

  • imperial culture: literature, music, art, religion, sport (cricket, horse racing, rugby, etc.)

  • iconographies of imperial power

  • conceptual terminology in the study of empires

  • forms of resistance to and subversion of imperial authority

  • inter-imperial commodity chains, trade journeys

  • nationalistic movements, transitions from empire to nation-state

  • the embodied experiences of empire

  • environmental colonialism

  • everyday empire: street signs, posters, patterns of consumption

  • the circulation of periodicals and imperial press systems

  • leisure practices, such as reading, cooking, hiking, and feasts in imperial contexts

  • performances of colonial authority: ceremonies, hearings, trials, gatherings

  • popular attitudes toward empire

  • imperial propaganda: Ara Pacis, literature, public monuments, film, radio, television, rhetoric (“political spin”), etc.

  • travel writing (memoir, journalism, blogs, letters), adventure fiction

  • informal empire


As always, we also welcome panel and paper proposals on methods and theories of cultural history; new approaches to cultural history; and the history of cultural history.


Presentations should be no more than 20 minutes in length and delivered in English:

  • Individual paper proposals should consist of an abstract (not exceeding 300 words) and an 80-100 word bio in single Word or PDF file.

  • Panel proposals should include abstracts for 3-4 papers, a brief rationale that connects the papers (100-200 words), and biographies of each participant (80-100 words) in a single pdf or Word file. Please indicate if one of you will serve as panel chair. Successful panel proposals will include participants from more than one institution, and, ideally, a mix of disciplines/fields and career stages. 


DEADLINE: The deadline has now passed. The program committee expects to make decisions by 25 January. 

The committee is willing to consider proposals on a waitlisted basis through 1 March. Please contact

Those individuals whose abstracts are accepted for presentation will be expected to become members of the ISCH:


Presenters are invited to consider submitting articles to the ISCH’s official peer-reviewed journal, Cultural History (published by the Edinburgh University Press), and monographs to the book series it publishes with Routledge. Links to each respective publication opportunity follow:


The conference will feature a prize competition for the best paper presentation by an early career researcher (details tba).


Important note: The 2023 ISCH conference will be held in parallel with the Society for Global Nineteenth-Century Studies’ World Congress. Attendees of both events will gather for plenaries and cultural activities; have the option of attending panels at either conference; and sign up to participate in an array of workshops


About ISCH

What is the International Society for Cultural History?

In the International Society for Cultural History (ISCH), our shared interest is the discussion, exchange, and support of global cultural history throughout all periods and world-wide in all interested academic disciplines. The ISCH meets annually, bringing together cultural historians from all continents. You can learn more about ISCH here



Plenary Speakers




Amazing days



ISCH Plenary Speakers

Jane Lydon

Wesfarmers Chair of Australian History

The University of Western Australia

"Imperial Subjects to Global Citizens? A Visual Language of Australian Citizenship"

Carlos F. Noreña
Professor of History
University of California, Berkeley

"Cultural Integration in Ancient Eurasian Empires"

SGNCS Plenary Speakers

ISCH conference attendees will also gather in plenary sessions with SGNCS congress attendees for the following addresses:

Image by Simone Fischer

Preliminary Program

We are pleased to share a preliminary program for the ISCH 2023 conference

Image by Lily Banse

Creative Writing Workshop for Cultural Historians
Pälvi Rantala (University of Lapland)

Academic writing is not only an intellectual practice but an activity that involves both the mind and the body. Creative writing can be useful in every part of the research process - from generating ideas to formulating arguments and analyzing data. Creative writing exercises can provide the researcher with the means to speculate, imagine, fabulate, surprise, as well as to ask new questions. They can also help researchers renew their vocabulary and challenge fixed modes of thinking, as well as liberate oneself from a controlling and over-analytical mind. Plus, they enable one to experience anew the pleasure of writing!

In this writing workshop you only need a pen and a piece of paper (or a bunch of paper, or a notebook . . .) and the desire to write. We will undertake short exercises in which you will be asked to consider your research subject from different angles and express yourself through varied forms of writing.

Enrollment limited to 15. The workshop will be offered twice: once as part of the SGNCS program and the other as part of the ISCH program. Attendees of both conferences can register for either slot. The deadline to register is 1 June to

Image by MF Evelyn

SGNCS Workshops

ISCH conference attendees may also register for one of six SGNCS workshops. These workshops are led by scholars in literature, history, media studies, and art history. They will provide opportunities for graduate students, early career researchers, and established scholars to formally or informally discuss their work in a small-group setting. In some cases, workshops may also lead to group publications, such as an edited collection or a special issue of a journal. Although many of these workshops focus on the period between 1750-1914, the theoretical and practical matters addressed in these workshops will be useful to scholars working on other historical periods and on a variety of geographic locations. 


To register for the conference, please visit the secure server here

Late registration rates (available through 15 April 2023)

Waged (annual salary greater than $150,000 USD or equivalent): $270.00

Waged (annual salary between $100,000-150,000 USD or equivalent): $240.00

Waged (annual salary between $50,000-$100,000 USD or equivalent): $210.00


Emeritus, ECR, postdoc, and annual salary between $35,000-$50,000 USD or equivalent: $180.00

Contingent, graduate student (annual salary below $35,000 USD or equivalent): $150.00

Non-presenting attendee (salary at or above $75,000 USD or equivalent) $135.00

Non-presenting attendee (salary at or below $74,599 USD or equivalent) $110.00

Gala dinner (22 June) $65.00

Registration will open in December 2022.

Past Events
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