Call for Participants: Comparative Wests Winter Conference 2012

Comparative Wests Conference 2012
Stanford University
January 21-23, 2012

Transforming the Wests: Understanding Shared Pasts and Enduring Issues in the Comparative Wests

Many Wests were formed through prolonged and acute contact events between Indigenous populations and invading settler colonialists. These events served both to restructure the nature of Indigenous existence and shape the economy and identity of the nation states that claimed sovereignty over new lands. With these shared histories, these Comparative Wests also share contemporary issues of sovereignty, environmental degradation, and the maintenance of Indigenous livelihoods.

This conference proposes to explore the nexus between environmental, social and economic change that transformed these Wests, and the enduring issues that remain as their legacy. Through a transnational comparative focus particularly on the western United States and Canada, Australia, including western Australia, New Zealand, western South America, and the Pacific Islands, this conference will serve to foster the emerging connections between scholars and Indigenous and Aboriginal leaders in these Comparative Wests.

Building upon a periodic Sawyer seminar series being held at Stanford from 2010 through 2012, and a Comparative Wests conference at the University of Western Australia in February 2011, this conference will bring scholars together from diverse disciplines in the humanities and environmental sciences to explore these issues. Papers that explore the shared histories of European settler colonialism, the transformations of Indigenous livelihoods and rights, and concomitant transformations in the environment and the issues that endure today in these regions are particularly encouraged. This year we will be paying special attention to the nature of changing economies and changing environments, as evidenced by anthropogenic and natural fire regimes, changing hydrological regimes, and altered climates, although other topics in history, livelihoods, rights, legal regimes, land tenure, networks of exchange, mobility, and environments in these Comparative Wests are also welcome.

This conference will bring approximately 30 participants together for seminar style discussions structured around pre-circulated papers by the participants on Friday, January 20, and Saturday, January 21. After the conference, selected revised papers will be published in a special issue of a scholarly peer-reviewed digital journal. We are currently in discussions regarding several options for this publication. The conference will be followed by optional field trips on Sunday, January 22. Participants may also choose to remain at Stanford on Monday, January 23, for self-organized meetings with collaborators and a regularly scheduled Comparative Wests seminar with Lisa Ford, lecturer at the University of New South Wales, and author of Settler Sovereignty: Jurisdiction and Indigenous People in America and Australia, 1788-1836.

Participants will be responsible for their own travel and lodging arrangements, though we can offer recommendations. There is limited funding available for travel assistance for those requiring it. Please let us know if you will need travel assistance.

Interested participants

Please send a short proposal (description or extended abstract of up to 500 words), to

Brian Codding (

Deadline: September 30, 2011