Centering Families in Atlantic Worlds, 1500–1800
Call for Papers
A conference co-sponsored by the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture and the Institute for Historical Studies, University of Texas, Austin.
February 27–March 1, 2011, University of Texas at Austin.
“For people in Europe, Africa, and the Americas, families mattered. Families functioned as key political, economic, social, cultural, and religious units, whether or not individuals remained physically, emotionally, or economically connected to them. Households formed the basis of social, political, and economic order. The rhetoric of family relations underpinned diplomacy, politics, and religion. Secular and sacred authorities alike tried to regulate marriage, sexuality, and family in metropolitan and colonial contexts. The interplay of local particularities and general patterns shaped families around the Atlantic, as families in turn shaped local circumstances and broader trajectories. Embedded in households, kin connections, and gender dynamics, families were at the center of Atlantic worlds.
Yet too often families have not been central to historical explanations of Atlantic locations. This conference takes an integrative approach, encouraging proposals from all geographic regions of the Atlantic that explore how family issues are intrinsic to explaining larger patterns. In the 1970s, demographic studies and social history approaches that treated family history as a sub-field predominated. Later, cultural historical approaches largely bypassed families and focused on selves and identities. In recent Atlantic historiography, little attention has been paid to the ways in which families, households, and kin were critically important to subjects such as migration, commodity production and consumption, racial codification, and imperial projects in the Americas and elsewhere around the Atlantic. Papers for this conference might consider these and other topics, including family economies, the political and religious dynamics of families and households, blood and lineage, the relationship between families and slavery, the language of family, gender and sexualities, and law, as well as relations between parents and children, husbands and wives, and kin of all sorts. We invite papers from a variety of fresh perspectives that will provide the basis for a rigorous and comparative family-centered history of the early modern Atlantic….”