Entangled Histories

Making New Connections in Early America, c. 1750-1850

April 5-7, 2018, Philadelphia, PA

Emerging from a 2007 forum on “Entangled Empires” in the American Historical Review,the concept of “entangled history” has been widely used to address questions of sovereignty, diplomacy, borderlands, diaspora, and other subjects in early America.  This three day conference will showcase new work and invite scholars to look more closely at historical processes that disrupt imperial-state narratives. 


We are delighted to announce the upcoming conference, “Entangled Histories: Making New Connections in Early America, c. 1750-1850.”  This event will bring together an international group of scholars to share new work on entangled histories in North America and beyond.  The program includes work on Anglo, Spanish, French, and Indigenous peoples/spaces.  We invite you to join us and engage in wide-ranging conversations on the influence and future direction of entangled history. 


You can see the full program here.


The program will include a series of six panels with pre-circulated papers that will be available to registered attendees.  To obtain the papers, you must be registered for the conference.  Papers will be available by March 1st. 


On Thursday, April 5th, we will welcome two distinguished scholars – Alison Games of Georgetown University and Pekka Hämäläinen of the University of Oxford – as plenary speakers.  They will open our proceedings with a dialogue about the assumptions and methodological habits that continue to carve up early American history and new opportunities for synthesis or comparison on hemispheric and global scales. 


The next day, Friday, April 6th, our program will feature a special roundtable on digital history and mapping that will highlight the ways in which scholars are fusing print and digital publication, incorporating digital research into teaching, and partnering with research libraries to advance digital humanities.  We expect this session to spark new partnerships and creative approaches to the study of early America that show the richness of entangled histories.


We look forward to seeing you in Philadelphia in April 2018.

Julia Mansfield & Eliga Gould
Co-chairs of the program committee


If you have questions about this event please contact the McNeil Center.

Conference Program

Philadelphia, PA
April 5-7, 2018

Thursday, April 5

Benjamin Franklin Hall, American Philosophical Society, 427 Chestnut Street


3:00 – 4:00 PM          Registration


4:00 – 5:45 PM          Opening Plenary       


Alison Games (Georgetown University) & Pekka Hämäläinen (University of Oxford) in dialogue


Moderators:  Eliga Gould (University of New Hampshire) and Julia Mansfield (Yale University), Program Committee Co-Chairs.


The Plenary speakers will be responding to questions that are available on the conference website.


5:45 – 6:30 PM          Welcome Reception

                                    Sponsored by the American Philosophical Society Library

Friday, April 6

McNeil Center for Early American Studies, University of Pennsylvania, 3355 Woodland Walk


8:30 AM                     Coffee & Light Breakfast


9:00 – 10:15 AM      Session 1: What is American about America?


Christopher Heaney (MCEAS/Penn State University)
“Mummifying America: Inca Bodies and U.S. Museums, 1800-1850”


Alicia DeMaio (Harvard University)
"A Botanical Empire: The Cambridge Botanic Garden and the Mexican-American Borderlands, 1842-1860"


Commentator: Jessica Lepler (University of New Hampshire)


10:15 – 10:30 AM      Break


10:30 – 11:45 PM       Session 2: Lines of Communication


John Nelson (University of Notre Dame)
“‘The Door is Rather Too Wide to Close’: The Chicago Portage and Great Lakes Maritime Frontier, 1787-1833”


Alyssa Zuercher Reichardt (Penn State University/University of Missouri)
“Infrastructure States and Political Landscapes in the American Southeast, 1755-1815”


Laura Keenan Spero (MCEAS)
“‘To Unite Their Interest’: Shawnees, Entangled Histories, and the Origins of Pan-Indianism”


Commentator: Pekka Hämäläinen (University of Oxford)


11:45 – 1:00 PM         Lunch on your own


1:00 – 2:15 PM           Session 3: Trade, Slavery, and Settlement


Sarah Templier (Johns Hopkins University)
“Forbidden Textiles: The Colony of New York-New France Smuggling Corridor, 1713-1760”


Alexandra Montgomery (MCEAS/University of Pennsylvania)
“‘The Current of Germans will be the Making of the Province’: Foreign Protestants, the British Empire, and the Weaponization of Settlement in the Gulf of Maine World, 1740-1800”


Tessa Murphy (Syracuse University)
“Incorporating the Creole Archipelago: Sovereignty & Subjecthood in the Ceded Islands, 1763-1797”


Commentator: Jessica Roney (Temple University)


2:15 – 2:30 PM           Break


2:30 – 3:45 PM           Session 4: Capital and Property on the Periphery


Andrew Rutledge (University of Michigan)
“‘A people who want goods will find out ways for a Supply’: Edward Manning and the Evolution of Anglo-Spanish Trade in the Eighteenth-Century Caribbean”


Elena Schneider (University of California, Berkeley)
“The View from Havana: War, Trade, and Slavery in the Eighteenth-Century Atlantic World”


Dael Norwood (Binghamton University)
“Isolating Oceans, Collusive Quarters, and Knotty Empires: How Bank Wars and Opium Smuggling Restructured Americans’ Relationships with China, Britain, and Their Own Government”


Commentator: Alison Games (Georgetown University)


3:45 – 4:00 PM           Break


4:00 – 5:15 PM           Roundtable on Digital History and Mapping


Konstantin Dierks (Indiana University, Bloomington)


S. Max Edelson (University of Virginia)


Scott Ziegler (Louisiana State University Libraries)


Sponsored by the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture as part of THis Camp, which focuses on software and digital tools of particular use to historians.



Saturday, April 7

McNeil Center for Early American Studies, University of Pennsylvania, 3355 Woodland Walk


8:30 AM                     Coffee & Light Breakfast


9:00 – 10:30 AM        Session 5: Race and Removal


Samantha Billing (Penn State University)
“Genocide in the Greater Caribbean? Eighteenth-Century English Expansionism, Miskitu Alliances, and Spanish Plans for Indigenous Extermination”


Mark Lentz (Utah Valley University)
“Petén, 1825: Triracial Tensions and Black Insurgency in Independent Guatemala”


Christopher Bilodeau (Dickinson College) & Benjamin Brower (University of Texas at Austin)
“‘The Indigenous Question’: Forced Migration of Indigenous Populations in the United States and French Algeria, 1820-1870”


Commentator: Jordana Dym (Skidmore College)


10:30 – 10:45 AM      Break


10:45 – 12:15 PM       Session 6: Entangled Lives and Deaths


Kristie Flannery (University of Texas at Austin)
“The Transimperial Biography of Don Cesar Falliet: A Life Between Global Cities, 1730-1762”


Jared Ross Hardesty (Western Washington University) & Karwan Fatah-Black (University of Leiden)
“I’m sorry Capt. Jackson: An Entangled History of Smuggling, Race, and Murder in the Eighteenth-Century Atlantic World”


Katherine Grandjean (Wellesley College)
“The Two Faces of John Setton; Or, a Tale of Crime and Punishment in the Borderlands of the Early Republic”


Commentator: April Hatfield (Texas A&M University)


12:15 – 12:45 PM       Concluding Remarks

Participant Guidelines

The program includes six sessions with pre-circulated papers that will be available to all registered participants. Each session includes three papers and one commentator who will respond to the papers and open discussion for attendees.

Initially, the panelists will provide a short summary (8-10 minutes) of their papers. When speaking, the panelists should bear in mind that participants have already had time to read the papers and need only brief remarks to refresh their memories. Therefore, panelists should use their time principally to highlight connections that they see across papers and put their work in conversation with the work of other panelists. In addition, panelists should use their time to situate their papers within the context of a larger book project or ongoing research agenda and to raise historiographical, methodological, or interpretive questions with which they are grappling.

The commentator will respond to the panelists as a group and offer a few questions to launch discussion.

Every participant is expected to read the pre-circulated papers that panelists submit before the conference and to engage with their work rigorously. Each session will have a 30 to 45 minute period of time devoted to general discussion. We look forward to lively exchanges and debates between participants as we all delve into the rich materials presented.

Please contact the McNeil Center with any conference related questions.

Conference Participants


Samantha Billing
Ph.D. Candidate, Pennsylvania State University

Christopher Bilodeau
Associate Professor, Dickinson College

Benjamin Brower
Associate Professor, University of Texas at Austin

Alicia DeMaio
Ph.D. Candidate, Harvard University

Konstantin Dierks
Associate Professor, Indiana University, Bloomington

Jordana Dym
Professor, Skidmore College

S. Max Edelson
Associate Professor, University of Virginia

Karwan Fatah-Black
Assistant Professor, University of Leiden, The Netherlands

Kristie Flannery
Ph.D. Candidate, University of Texas at Austin

Alison Games
Professor, Georgetown University

Eliga Gould
Professor, University of New Hampshire

Katherine Grandjean
Associate Professor, Wellesley College

Pekka Hämäläinen
Professor, University of Oxford

Jared Ross Hardesty
Associate Professor, Western Washington University

April Hatfield
Associate Professor, Texas A&M University

Christopher Heaney
Barra Postdoctoral Fellow, MCEAS
and Assistant Professor, Pennsylvania State University

Mark Lentz
Assistant Professor, Utah Valley University

Jessica Lepler
Associate Professor, University of New Hampshire

Julia Mansfield
Postdoctoral Associate, Yale University

Alexandra Montgomery
Marguerite Bartlett Hamer Dissertation Fellow, MCEAS
and Ph.D. Candidate, University of Pennsylvania

Tessa Murphy
Assistant Professor, Syracuse University

John Nelson
Ph.D. Candidate, University of Notre Dame

Dael Norwood
Assistant Professor, Binghamton University

Derek O’Leary
Ph.D. Candidate, University of California, Berkeley

Alyssa Zuercher Reichardt
Junior Visiting Fellow, Center for Humanities & Information, Pennsylvania State University
and Assistant Professor, University of Missouri

Andrew Rutledge
Ph.D. Candidate, University of Michigan

Elena Schneider
Assistant Professor, University of California, Berkeley

Laura Keenan Spero
Coordinator of Scholarly Programs, MCEAS

Sarah Templier
Ph.D. Candidate, Johns Hopkins University

Scott Ziegler
Head of Digital Projects and Services, Louisiana State University Libraries



Program Committee


Eliga Gould, University of New Hampshire, Co-Chair

Julia Mansfield, Yale University, Co-Chair

Jordana Dym, Skidmore College

April Hatfield, Texas A&M University

Jessica Lepler, University of New Hampshire