Home Events & Conferences Event History 2015 Conferences Germans in the Pacific World from the late 17th to 20th Century
Germans in the Pacific World from the late 17th to 20th Century Print E-mail

March 5-7, 2015
Conference at the University of California in San Diego
Conveners: Hartmut Berghoff (GHI), Frank Biess (UCSD), Ulrike Strasser (UCSD)

Call for Papers

While the transpacific networks and the cultural encounters of Asians have received a relatively high level of attention in recent years, especially in subjects like Pacific, Oceanic, Area or Colonial Studies, the German element in these transit regional exchanges has often been underestimated or overlooked. This holds especially true for research on the European presence in the early modern period when Germany's lack of formal colonies long seemed to obviate the need to look for Germans in this part of the world.

In recent years individual scholars have started to uncover the significant presence and influence of Germans in the Pacific since the late 17th century in the economic, cultural, educational, religious and academic or intellectual spheres: from early modern missionaries and merchants to modern entrepreneurs and Cold War strategists. They have also probed the ways in which the Pacific figured in the development of German thought about culture and national identity in relationship to a larger world. In addition, a growing number of works on the German colonialism in the Pacific have appeared.

This conference seeks to summarize the state-of-the-art of research so far and aims at developing a trans-disciplinary research agenda for the future. To capture the multi-faceted and multi-nodal connections between Germany and the Pacific, the conferences deliberately pushes the temporal frame beyond the period of colonial expansion, and investigates instead questions of continuities and discontinuities in the German presence abroad across the early modern/modern divide and into the 20th century. The conference also takes a very broad view of the Pacific. It seeks to illuminate the myriad of Pacific worlds that stretch from the different landmasses bordering the globe's largest ocean to the innumerable islands scattered across it and the spaces in between.

Possible themes for paper proposals included but are not limited to the following:
  • German expeditions to the Pacific
  • German missionaries in the Pacific
  • German migrations to and from the Pacific
  • German merchants and entrepreneurs in the Pacific
  • German immigrant communities in the Pacific
  • Economic relations between Germany and the Pacific
  • German colonialism in the Pacific
  • Germany's relationship with the Pacific as a postcolonial space
  • Pacific as an area of German imperial interest and expansion
  • The Pacific as part of Germany's Cold War
  • Pacific life worlds as a subject of academic disciplines
  • Knowledge transfer between the Pacific and Germany

Pending the approval of several funding requests, the conference organizers hope to cover travel expenses, accommodation, and some meals for the conference participants.

Please send a proposal of no more than 500 words and a short CV to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

DEADLINE for submissions: MARCH 1, 2014

For any inquiries do not hesitate to contact the conveners.