Federalism and Constitution-Making in the Post-Revolutionary Americas

Constitutions and constitutionalism have been major threads for research and discussion in the Liberalism in the Americas project, and it seems they are becoming the focus of a lot of new investigation. On 6 June, the York Centre for the Americas is hosting a one-day symposium on “Federalism and Constitution-Making in the Post-Revolutionary Americas”, with the involvement of several network members, including Nicholas Guyatt, Rosie Doyle, Jay Sexton, and David Jones.

Just as the Liberalism in the Americas project has considered the role of liberal constitution-making in the legitimisation of new states in the Americas following the revolutions for Independence, with Prof. Linda Colley’s lecture amongst others, this symposium seeks to investigate the transnational processes and debates shaping constitution-making, with the focus of discussion on federalism rather than liberalism.,

As the advertising flyer for the symposium indicates, the symposium wants to explore several core issues that have been central to our events in the Liberalism in the Americas series: “Why did so many federations emerge in the Americas during the Age of Revolutions? Were these emerging polities isolated or connected events? Had the US perfected an exportable model for the Americas, or did European constitutional arrangements remain influential? Or were the new constitutions of Latin America principally shaped by local concerns, debates and innovations?” For an indication of how our various events have intervened in these issues, you can catch up with a series of videos, conference reports and working papers here.

It is also worth emphasising that the York symposium is pursuing a transnational and comparative approach. Bringing together perspectives from North America, Latin America, the Caribbean, and the Atlantic World, and situating those perspectives in the context of world history has been a consistent aim of the Liberalism in the Americas project from the very outset, with our launch events, including an excellent lecture by Prof. Greg Grandin, transcending the old North-South divide! Throughout the project, bringing together North Americanists and Latin Americanists in particular has been extremely productive (if very challenging at times!) and it is wonderful to see similar approaches being taken in other research projects.

I can’t attend the 6 June event at York, but I’m sure it will be of enormous interest to many of our network members. To register interest in attending, and for further details, contact David Jones. Speakers include: Catherine Andrews (Escuela Nacional de Biblioteconomía y Archivonomía, Mexico City); Rosie Doyle (Institute for the Study of the Americas, University of London); Jordana Dym (Skidmore College); Max Edling (King’s College, London); David Jones (University of York); Jay Sexton (Corpus Christi College, Oxford); and Jordi Vernet (Rovira i Virgilli University).

It would be great to have some more info about the discussions that take place at the symposium to share with network members who can’t attend. So, if anyone wants to write a guest-blog on the event – let me know!

Conference Imminent: Liberalism in the Americas goes to Leicester!

It’s been a while since the project blog was updated, but rest assured that project elves have been beavering away in the background all this time! Our partners at the British Library have been working with the project research assistant, Sarah Backhouse, ISA lecturer Matthew Hill, and the team at ULCC on the digital library, which will be hitting metaphorical online shelves very soon. In my new post at the University of Leicester, I have also been overseeing the development of the digital library and spreading the Liberalism in the Americas excitement to the East Midlands!

Partly to celebrate the culmination of the digital library, and to further develop several themes that have emerged from previous project events, I will be convening a 2-day conference at the University of Leicester on “Liberalism in the Americas: Popular, Gendered and Global Perspectives” on 4 and 5 July 2013. Above all, like our previous events series, the conference seeks to explore the contested ways in which liberal ideas and practices were accepted, adapted, translated, and rejected in different local, regional, national, and international contexts. Following the transnational and comparative aims of the project as a whole, the conference programme includes speakers working on different parts of Latin America, North America and the Atlantic World. Our two plenary speakers also represent the transnational and comparative dimensions of the conference: Dr Nicholas Guyatt (University of York), will be speaking on “‘The High Ground of Humanity’: Liberal Understandings of Racial Removal in the Nineteenth-Century Americas” and Dr Gabriel Paquette (Johns Hopkins University), will be talking “Liberals and Liberalism in the Early Nineteenth-century Iberian Atlantic World.”

I hope you’ll be able to join us for this exciting conference programme, and the culmination of 2 years work on the Liberalism in the Americas project.

Thanks to the continued generous sponsorship of the Institute for the Study of the Americas, the registration fee is heavily subsidised and an absolute bargain! Further details, and the online registration system, can be found here. Places are limited, and the deadline for registration is 16 June, so don’t delay in reserving your place!

As always, any questions – just contact me!