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Imperial Designs: Comparative Dynamics of Early Empires

WGF Symposium #122 Group Photo

October 24 - November 1, 1997
Hotel Mijas, Mijas, Spain

PUBLICATION:    Empires (Susan E. Alcock, Terence N. D’Altroy, Kathleen D. Morrison, and Carla M. Sinopoli, Eds.), Cambridge University Press, 2001


bookcoverSusan Alcock, organizer (University of Michigan, USA)
Thomas Barfield (Boston University, USA)
Elizabeth Brumfiel (Albion College, USA)
Terence D'Altroy, organizer (Columbia University, USA)
Kathleen Deagan (University of Florida, USA)
Francis Hayashida (Technical University of Munich, Germany)
Amelie Kurht (University College, London, UK)
Mario Liverani (University of Rome, Italy)
Sabine MacCormack (University of Michigan, USA)
John Moreland (University of Sheffield, UK)
Robert Morkot (University of Exeter, UK)
Kathleen Morrison, organizer (University of Chicago, USA)
Katharina Schreiber (University of California, Santa Barbara, USA)
Sydel Silverman (Wenner-Gren Foundation, USA)
Carla Sinopoli, organizer (University of Michigan, USA)
Michael E. Smith (State University of New York, Albany, USA)
Sanjay Subrahmanyam (École des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, France)
Greg Woolf (University of Oxford, UK)
Robin Yates (McGill University, Canada)


Seventeen scholars from the disciplines of cultural anthropology, anthropological archaeology, classical archaeology, and history came together at this symposium to assess recent research on premodern and early-modern empires in a comparative perspective.  The participants examined political, economic, and ideological structures and practices in imperial states, relations between imperial subjects and rulers, and issues of historiography.  While emphasizing a comparativist perspective, the conference also sought to address historical particularities and the unique trajectories of individual cases.  To meet these goals, each participant prepared a paper dealing with a particular case in the context of pre-defined themes (concerning political, ideological, sociological or economic issues). Among the cases considered were the New World empires of Wari, Inka, Aztec, and 16th-century Spanish America, as well as Old World empires including the Assyrian and Achaeminid,  Egypt and Nubia, the Romans, the Carolingians, early imperial China, nomadic empires of the Central Eurasion steppes, the Satavahana and Vijayanagara  of South Asia, and the 16th-century Portuguese Estada da India.  The discussions compared these cases around cross-cutting themes: sources of evidence and evaluation of normative models; imperial ideologies and cultures; relations between claims to imperial power and its actualization; imperial integration and competition; domination, assimilation and resistance; cultural and political contexts beyond imperial boundaries; and imperial legacies and historiography.