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Pocahontas and after: historical culture and transatlantic encounters, 1617-2017

March 16, 2017 - March 18, 2017
Institute of Historical Research

Senate House, Malet Street
London
United Kingdom

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A major international conference to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Pocahontas’ death. Co-hosted by the Eccles Centre for American Studies at the British Library and the Institute for Historical Research.

Additional support has been provided by the Omohundro Institute for Early American History and Culture and The University of Warwick.

In 2017 the Anglo-American world will mark the 400th anniversary of the death of Pocahontas. Numerous commemorative activities, from walking tours to talking monuments, have been planned on both sides of the Atlantic. Intense, closely focused interest in her life is, of course, not a new phenomenon. Her story has been romanticised at many points over the centuries, and multiple representations of Pocahontas (as Noble Savage, Mother of a Nation, propaganda icon, seductive temptress) have materialised in historical accounts, in literature, and in visual, material, and performance art. From a range of historical and literary perspectives, and for a variety of social and political purposes, the tale of this Native American “princess” has left an enduring legacy among Indigenous, local, national, and international communities.

Using Pocahontas’ visit to England and her death and burial in Kent as an entry point, this conference will explore the continued interest in Pocahontas as a subject of study. It will explore the academic challenges posed by the multiple versions and the contemporary appropriations of this Powhatan/Pamunkey woman variously known as Amonute, Matoaka, Pocahontas, and Rebecca. In exploring the life and afterlives of Pocahontas, it aims to open new interdisciplinary discussions.

Papers are thus welcomed from all disciplinary perspectives, including (but not limited to) transatlantic and early modern studies; visual, literary and cultural studies; and, particularly, from Native American perspectives. Comparative work is also encouraged, as are contributions from early career researchers. We additionally encourage contributions that shed new light on the British Library and the Institute of Historical Research’s collections related to Pocahontas.

Suggested themes include:

  • Cultural encounters
  • The Atlantic World
  • Indigenous feminism
  • Pocahontas and political resistance
  • Cultural mediation and negotiators
  • Native knowledge and natural environments
  • Transatlantic deathways
  • Pocahontas’ legacies in the UK
  • Commemorations and celebrations
  • Comparative approaches to Pocahontas (eg. La Malinche)
  • Representations of Pocahontas in literature and culture
  • Pocahontas and Bloomsbury
  • Teaching Pocahontas, and Pocahontas as subject of academic enquiry.

Confirmed speakers:

  • Professor Mishuana Goeman (UCLA)
  • Professor Karen Kupperman (NYU)
  • Professor Camilla Townsend (Rutgers)
  • Karenne Wood (Virginia Indian Heritage Programme)
  • Additionally, there will be a special session with Dr James Horn, President of Jamestown Rediscovery Foundation.

250-word abstracts together with a short biography should be submitted to eccles-centre@bl.uk (please include subject line: Pocahontas and After conference) by Sunday 13 November 2016. The conference will cost £80 for employed and £40 for the unwaged, postgraduates and early career researchers (within 5 years of submitting PhD). We aim to offer a number of bursaries for postgraduates and early career researchers to offset costs.

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