CFP: ‘Testing toleration in Britain’s imperial and post-imperial world’ – Submissions Deadline 12 February 2018

Call for Papers

‘Testing toleration in Britain’s imperial and post-imperial world’

A Doctoral and ECR conference at Birkbeck, University of London

Friday 15th June, 2018

The question of the nature and limits of toleration is now as pressing as it has ever been.  We live in turbulent times with increasingly polarised – and perhaps intolerant – public debate as perceived differences between people become a site of controversy and values become oppositional.  In modern Britain, for example, promotion of the supposed British value of toleration is challenged by increased evidence of Islamophobia. The problems of defining and testing toleration are not new. They have both roots and precedence in a world of empires. How did questions of toleration emerge in Britain’s empire and how were they dealt with? What is their legacy in Britain’s imperial and post-imperial world?

This inter-disciplinary doctoral and ECR conference at Birkbeck, University of London on Friday 15th June 2018 aims to explore the concept and limits of toleration in imperial and post-colonial attitudes and interactions between the people, religions and cultures of the nations which once constituted the British empire.

The conference will be particularly, but not exclusively, focused on the encounter between the people, cultures and religions of Britain and the Indian sub-continent and Africa in situ and in migrant communities in Britain from c. 1750 to the present day.

Wider themes include: assimilation, tolerance, relativism, universalism, empire, integration, religion, secularism, multiculturalism, pluralism, liberalism.

Papers are invited on any topic related to the indicative themes and questions explored in the conference:

What did it mean to be tolerant in the context of empire?

  • Who was being tolerant and what was being tolerated?
  • Did this change over time? How and why?
  • What was intolerable and to whom?

Have concepts of toleration that developed during the Empire affected the concept of national identity in the post-empire era?

  • Who was being tolerant and what was being tolerated?
  • What are the limits of toleration in the post-Empire world?
  • Does the practice of “tolerance” in society signify inequality?

The concept of toleration

  • What does it mean to be tolerant?
  • What is the relationship between power and toleration?
  • What is the relationship between toleration and assimilation, integration, pluralism and multiculturalism?

 We welcome proposals from all relevant academic disciplines, which may include History, Religious Studies, Anthropology, Psychology and Psychosocial Studies, Philosophy, Politics, Literature Studies, History of Art.

If you would like to present a paper, please submit an abstract (max 300 words) along with a short paragraph (max 200 words) which outlines your institution, the academic discipline in which you are researching and your main doctoral/research project to the conference convenors, Sue Blunn and Helen Carr (to whom any queries can also be sent) at:

Deadline for proposals: Monday 12th  February 2018