1 Jul 2010 - 3 Jul 2010 All day Newnham College, Sidgwick Avenue, Cambridge


Registration for this conference is closed now. 

Conference convenors

Cecil Courtney (Christ's College, University of Cambridge)
Mark Darlow (Christ's College, University of Cambridge)
Jenny Mander (Newnham College, University of Cambridge)

Conference summary

The year 2010 will see the publication of Volume I of a the first complete modern critical edition of the abbé Raynal’s Histoire philosophique des deux Indes (Ferney-Voltaire: CIEDS). The conference will celebrate this landmark publication, by exploring Raynal's text and its multiple contexts, assembling scholars of colonial history, Enlightenment studies, the history of ideas, literary history and book history.

The nineteen books of the Histoire, which chart a philosophical and political history of European colonial trade and settlements, were hugely influential.  Translated into many other European languages, they helped popularise and shape anti-colonial and abolitionist discourse even while they served to inform colonial administrators and to reflect on intra-European rivalries.  Substantially revised and augmented over a period of ten years, Raynal’s project was a vast undertaking in which he drew on multiple resources, placing the Histoire at the centre of a complex and extensive network of writers, politicians, administrators, scientists and other thinkers on the one hand, and, on the other, at the confluence of countless texts concerning the history of European colonies and travel writing, written over several centuries in different times and spaces, and from often very different professional and ideological positions.

Focussing in particular on the role played by social networks, this conference seeks to explore Raynal's Histoire within the multiple circuits of communication that simultaneously shape the 'global eighteenth century', its modes of sociability and its literature. Alongside papers that shed new light on Raynal's networks of living informants, his exploitation of printed sources, and his collaborators, the conference programme will comprise papers that consider these interactions in relation to other patterns of Enlightenment sociability and literary/artistic collaboration, and in relation to the broader processes of intellectual and cultural transfer within France, between France and other European nations, and between Europe and its colonies. It will also include papers that address the diffusion of Raynal's text, its networks of readers, and the ways in which its material circulation lead to culturally-specific receptions. Space will also be given to papers that reflect on the dynamics of social networks and knowledge transfer from a more theoretical point of view.



Should you wish to purchase volume 1 of the new edition of the Histoire des deux Indes and/or the Tableaux, atlas et cartes at £50 each see HERE for details. Please send a message before 15 June to cieds@c18.net. Payment can be made when collecting your copy at Newnham, by cash, cheque or credit card.


Accommodation for delegates

We are unable to arrange accommodation, however, the following websites may be of help.

NB. CRASSH is not able to help with the booking of accommodation.

Conference sponsors

The convenors are grateful for the support of Newnham College, the Department of French, the Society for French Studies, The French Embassy, Cambridge University Library, Newnham College Library, the Heffers Book Shop and The Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH) at the University of Cambridge.




Administrative assistance: Anna Malinowska (Conference Programme Manager, CRASSH)


Tel: +44 1223 766886
Email enquiries@crassh.cam.ac.uk