Call for papers for international conference

Oct 03, 2019

A major international conference will take place in the Netherlands in 2020, in the city that was home to many of the Mayflower passengers for nearly 12 years before their voyage to America.

Of the 100 English 'Pilgrims' undertaking the 1620 Atlantic crossing, 50 hailed from the city of Leiden, where they had lived as religious refugees since 1609.

Among them was William Bradford, the later governor and chronicler of Plymouth Colony. The Mayflower voyage and the foundation of Plymouth Colony have become linked with origin narratives of the United States, which ignore not only the Pilgrims’ almost 12-year sojourn in Leiden and the larger Atlantic networks in which they were operating, but also the continuing impact of colonialism on indigenous societies and cultures.

The conference will take place from August 26-28, 2020, in the city where their pastor John Robinson led the Separatist congregation and William Brewster operated a secret dissenting press.

It will challenge the Anglo-American approach which has so often dominated the popular narrative of the early colonisation of North America, and prioritise a “four-nations” approach to include Dutch and Native American perspectives. Taking the Mayflower anniversary as starting point and central concern, this interdisciplinary conference seeks to interrogate the myths, power-bases, mobility, and knowledge production of colonial pasts through three distinct but related strands:

  • Contesting memories and commemorations
  • Colonialism, migration, and Indigenous impact and resistance
  • The production of knowledge, print culture, and national myths

The organisers are planning to edit a series of publications according to these themes and participants will be invited to submit their work for consideration following the conference.

Confirmed keynote speaker: Francis J. Bremer, Professor Emeritus of History at Millersville University, and internationally renowned Puritanism scholar and coordinator of the website New England Beginnings.

Paper and panel proposals from scholars in a wide range of disciplines are welcome – including history, literary and cultural studies, art history, religious studies, indigenous studies, linguistics, law, anthropology, and archaeology. Topics may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • The Pilgrims and the construction and politics of public memory
  • The politics of historical commemorations
  • Indigenous responses to ‘founding’ narratives
  • The reclamation and reconstruction of indigenous languages
  • Puritan dissenters and missionaries in North America
  • Colonialism and indigenous resistance
  • S. Indian policies, nation building and national identity constructions
  • Memory culture and national myth production
  • Heritage and tourism
  • Pilgrim heritage sites; Pilgrim descendant organizations and communities
  • Dutch commemorations of the Pilgrims
  • Dutch cities as ‘cities of refugees’ and the history of religious tolerance in the Dutch Republic
  • Leiden in the Atlantic world
  • Religious mobility in the 16th and 17th centuries
  • Children’s literature and the colonial Atlantic world
  • The representation of (New England) Native Americans and/or the Pilgrims and Puritanism in American literature and art
  • Pilgrims and the construction of political culture: theocracy, democracy and tolerance
  • William Bradford’s Of Plymouth plantation, through the ages
  • Print, press and propaganda, material exchange and intellectual heritage.

Proposals for individual papers or panels  (normally comprising three papers of 15-20 minutes) should be submitted by November 15, 2019. Paper abstracts should be c. 300 words and accompanied by a short bio (for panels, include abstracts and speakers’ bios). Abstracts can be sent to Johanna C. Kardux, j.c.kardux@hum.leidenuniv.nl (please put in the subject heading “Mayflower400”). Submitters will receive notification of acceptance by January 1, 2020.

For more information see the Leiden Mayflower400 conference website

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