Colonial Knowledges: Environment and Logistics in the Creation of Knowledge in British Colonies from 1750-1950.

We are opening another Call For Papers for another set of seminar sessions! These will take place from May to September, every other Wednesday from 5pm – 6pm BST via Zoom.

Please submit 200 word abstracts (for 15 minute papers) and a brief biography by April 11th via this form:

Papers from across the academic disciplines are welcome, including work-in-progress material. We also welcome papers from any career stage and any institution across the globe, as well as from independent researchers.
If the timing of the seminar is inconvenient because of your time zone, this is negotiable.

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to drop us a line at:

Find the call for papers here:

The effects of colonial power dynamics on knowledge creation in the long nineteenth century and beyond are well known and have become the foundation of a postcolonial reading of British scholarship in the context of empire. What has been less well examined are the practical effects of the colonial context on knowledge making.    

This seminar series seeks to explore how logistical and practical factors, such as the physical environment including climate and distance from the metropole, influenced the creation of both scientific and humanistic knowledge in British colonies. 

We invite papers exploring the practicalities of knowledge creation in any British colony from 1750 to 1950. Paper subjects can include but are not limited to:

  • Communication and the creation of scholarly networks between colony and metropole
  • The formation of learned societies in the colonial setting
  • The polymath in a colonial setting: the varied interests of colonial administrators
  • The interaction between British scholars and already existing local scholarships and knowledges
  • The interaction between British scholars and local scholars
  • Interdisciplinary journals and societies created in a colonial context
  • The circulation of journals between colony and metropole
  • The publishing and editorial environment of the colony
  • Acquiring materials and equipment in unfamiliar environments
  • Library formation and accessibility; acquisition of literature from the metropole  
  • The investigation of phenomena specific to an unfamiliar environment (such as weather, flora, fauna)
  • The logistics of travel and communication within the colony
  • The standardisation and institutionalisation of knowledge in the colony
  • Comparing knowledge creation across the colony and metropole

Who We Are:

We are a network of interested parties and scholars researching the creation of knowledge in British colonies from 1750 to 1950. We are aligned with the history of science, the history of humanities, and the history of knowledge; we welcome interest from any discipline and career stage, in or out of academia, and from across the globe.

We are presently running an online seminar series and in Feb 2020 we ran a successful conference.

This network is interested in how colonial environments shaped knowledge and knowledge creation: how British colonisers sought to overcome obstacles and work around unfamiliar climates, flora and fauna; how the colonial environment fought back and disrupted knowledge processes; how the existence of local scholarships and knowledge influenced British knowledge practices. For a more detailed breakdown see our conference call for papers.

We would be thrilled if you want to keep in touch! Sign up to the Colonial Knowledges mailing list for news and updates including information on our online seminar series:

Sign up to the seminar series itself on Eventbrite here.