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28.09.2019 13:15 Alter: 150 days

Constituting Boundaries

Call for Papers

Theme: Constituting Boundaries
Subtitle: Identities, Polities, and Colonial and Postcolonial
Constitution-Making, 1776-2019
Type: Interdisciplinary Conference
Institution: Pembroke College, University of Oxford
Location: Oxford (United Kingdom)
Date: 20.–21.4.2020
Deadline: 17.11.2019

In their function as frames of government, constitutions draw
boundaries of belonging. The act of making a constitution makes a
claim for the existence of a political community, and their texts
define the terms of citizenship and of political participation in
that community, including and excluding individuals based on race,
gender, sexuality, disability, class, and religion.

After 1776, the rebellious states of British North America strove to
create ‘government[s] of laws, not of men.’ To achieve their goal,
they composed new systems of government on paper, culminating in the
creation of the US Constitution in 1787. Countless other nations and
empires have followed suit. Constitution-making — successful or
otherwise — is a common feature of moments of social and political
upheaval in modern global history. Some constitution-makers have
eradicated slavery, thrown off empire, and legislated for social
justice, as in Haiti in 1805, the Cherokee Nation in 1827, India in
1950 and South Africa in 1996. Others have consolidated imperial
dominion and codified racial discrimination and exploitation, as in
the settler nations of the United States, Canada, Australia, New
Zealand, and Rhodesia.

This interdisciplinary conference will bring together scholars with a
common interest in the process and effects of constitution-making in
colonial and postcolonial polities across the world since the
American Revolution. The principal focus of discussion will be on the
intersection between constitution-making and identity formation.

The convenors invite proposals for individual papers and panels from
scholars working in history, literature, the arts, law, area studies,
political science, philosophy, and digital humanities. We are looking
for papers and panels on topics related to the conference theme.
These may include, but are not limited to:

- The influence of Western and non-Western political thought on
 global constitution-making
- Settler colonies, constitutions, and empire
- Constitution-making among indigenous nations
- Imperial constitutions in European empires
- Resistance to colonial/noncolonial constitutions and
- Decolonization and constituting new nations
- Constitutional amendment and the inclusion of Othered groups
- Artistic, literary, and cultural responses to constitution-making
- How constitutional provisions have been used to control indigenous
- Gender and constitution-making
- Sexuality, LGBT+ rights, and constitutional law
- Mental and physical health and constitutions
- Violence, warfare, and coercion in the creation of constitutional
- The role of public opinion and popular ratification in establishing
 the authority of constitutions
- The social and economic effects of constitutional change
- Crime, criminals, and constitutional rights
- Constitutions and social hierarchy
- Rights and constitutions – consideration of social, economic,
 religious, and civil rights in constitution-making
- National identity and the colonial/postcolonial constitution
- Constitutions and voting qualifications, for example property,
 literacy, and gender
- Religious influences on constitutions and their makers
- Modes and processes of constitution-making across time and space
- Constitutional Pan-Africanism and Pan-Arabism
- Radical constitutionalism and redefining imperial polities


The conference is open to doctoral students and post-doctoral
researchers from the UK or abroad, working in any field which
addresses the central theme.

The registration fee will be £50 per person. There will be an
optional conference dinner, and accommodation in Pembroke College, at
additional cost. Estimated cost for the conference dinner is £40 per
person (wine extra), while ensuite rooms with breakfast start at £75
per night.

Proposals for individual 20-minute papers should include a 300-word
abstract and a 100-word biography. Panel proposals should include a
500-word description of the focus of the panel, and brief biographies
of all participants. These should be received by 17th November 2019.

Please email the conference convenors, Kieran Hazzard and Grace
Mallon, with proposals via:

Conference website: