22.03. - 24.03. 2018


Schloss Friedenstein (Gotha) & Augustinerkloster Erfurt

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Florian Wagner



This workshop explores to what extent transimperial cooperation and transfers shaped colonial governmentality in the 19th and 20th centuries. Going beyond the conceptual and ideological similarities between empires, the focus is on colonizers and colonized who used cooperation and transfers to increase their agency. Referring to the concept of “triangulation” we ask whether shifting networks and solidarities among three groups led to the reinforcement of colonial domination (two colonizing powers against the colonized) or the subversion of colonial hierarchies (indigenous solidarity against the colonizer). In a long-term perspective, the workshop seeks to examine how imperial and anti-colonial forms of cooperation were institutionalized and thus impacted the development of international organizations in the 20th century.

Organizers: Florian Wagner (Erfurt), Christian Methfessel (Erfurt)
Gotha Research Centre (22 March) and Augustinerkloster Erfurt (23-24 March)
Funded by the Forum for the Study of the Global Condition and the Ernst-Abbe-Stiftung


A report of this workshop is published on H/SOZ/KULT, Link (3 May 2018).

Public Evening Lecture

Prof. Dr. Corey Ross (Birmingham): The Nature of Trans-imperialism: Ecological Interconnections and Colonized Environments
Conference room, Gotha Research Center, 22 March 2018, 5:15 pm


For all their constant rivalry, Europe’s overseas empires were fundamentally interactive entities whose commonalities continually opened up spaces for cross-border coordination. Over the past several years, historians have drawn on the insights of the ‘trans-national turn’ in historiography to explore various aspects of trans-imperial interconnection, focusing above all on the transfer of knowledge, practices and expertise across imperial borders. More recently still, scholars have started to look beyond the connections between colonial officials and policy-makers to consider also how such reciprocal linkages affected the colonized as well as the colonizers. This lecture will consider how these processes look when we expand the category of the ‘colonized’ beyond the realm of human societies to include also the ecosystems in which they were themselves embedded: the soil, water, plants, and animals that were likewise a part of Europe’s empire. It will argue that attempts to manage biophysical environments and to extract or conserve natural resources formed a key arena of trans-imperial connectivity in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. After all, biophysical processes and ecological interrelationships showed little respect for political or linguistic boundaries, and nor did many of the human-driven forces (trade, commodity production, colonial ‘development’) that so powerfully re-shaped colonized landscapes. The lecture will propose various typologies of what we might call ‘ecological trans-imperialism’ on the basis of examples drawn from across the tropical world.

Biographical Note

Prof. Dr. Corey Ross (Birmingham)
Corey Ross is Professor of Modern History at the University of Birmingham, UK. His main research interests are in the fields of environmental history, imperialism and global history, though he has also written widely on the history of mass communications and the history of state socialism. His most recent book, Ecology and Power in the Age of Empire, appeared in 2017.