Harmsworth Conference on Transimperial US History

Focusing on the years between 1815 and 1918, this conference aims to extend transnational analysis to imperial formations, so as to de-exceptionalize the study of U.S. imperialism, place it more fully in world history, and better illuminate its workings, as well as those of the empires with which it intersected. Although the state-to-state relations addressed by inter-imperial scholarship are part of this project, they are not the whole of it. Building on the “transi turn” in national historiographies, this conference will explore the various imperial terrains through which people, ideas, and things circulated and the layered experiences of empire found in particular communities and places. The central challenge posed by this conference is to make the imperial visible in ways that early work in transnational history has not.



2.00 - 3.30


Jay Sexton and Kristin Hoganson: Welcome and brief framing remarks


Keynote: Paul Kramer (Vanderbilt University)

Imperial Systems and Transfer Histories


3.30 - 4.00


Tea and coffee


4.00 - 5.30


Transimperial terrains

Chair: Tamson Pietsch (University of Sydney)

Brian DeLay (University of California, Berkeley), “How a Transimperial Arms Bazaar Stabilized Instability in the Circum-Caribbean”

Nicole Phelps (University of Vermont), “The US Consular Service:  The Colonial Office of the US Informal Empire?”



9.00 - 10.30


Oppositional movements

Chair: John Darwin (University of Oxford)

Moon-Ho Jung (University of Washington), “Fighting John Bull and Uncle Sam: Race and Anticolonial Struggles around World War I”

Marc Palen (University of Exeter), “The Political Economy of American Anti-Imperialism”


10.30 - 11.00


Tea and coffee


11.00 - 12.30


Labor and capital

Chair: Diana Paton (Newcastle University)

Julie Greene (University of Maryland), "Between and Beyond Empires: British Antillean Migrations and the World of the Panama Canal"

Steve Tuffnell (Oxford University), “Empires of the Rift Valley: Inter-Imperialism and the American Bridge Company in Britain’s East Africa Protectorate”


12.30 - 2.00




2.00 - 3.30


Progressive and other politics

Chair: Nicholas Guyatt (Cambridge University)

Julian Go (Boston University), "Empire, Democracy and Discipline: The Inter and Intra-Imperial Secret History of the Secret Ballot"

Anne Foster (Indiana State University), “Healthy Empires: Disease, Addiction and Medicine in Southeast Asia”


3.30 - 4.00


Tea and coffee


4.00 - 5.30


Discursive connections

Chair: Karine Walther (Georgetown University, at SFS Qatar)

Augusto Espiritu (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign), “Interimperial Subalternity: Discourse, Strategy, & Agency in Multi-Polar Contexts"

Michel Gobat (University of Pittsburgh), “'Our Indian Empire': The Transimperial Origins of U.S. Liberal Imperialism”


5.30 - 6.45


Wrap-up: What did we learn? What's missing? Where to go from here?



For further information please contact the conference organisers, Kristin Hoganson and Jay Sexton.