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Global Commodities: The Material Culture of Early Modern Connections, 1400-1800

Global History and Culture Centre - University of Warwick

12-14 December 2012


Material culture created and was created by connections with ‘others’ in the era before the global exchange of people, political ideas and economic processes intensified through industrialization. The exchange of goods and the culture of commodities played central roles in forging enduring and transformative global connections.

This conference seeks to explore how our understanding of early modern global connections changes if we consider the role material culture played in shaping such connections. In what ways did material objects participate in the development of the multiple processes often referred to as ‘globalisation’? How did objects contribute to the construction of such notions as hybridism and cosmopolitanism? What was their role in trade and migration, gifts and diplomacy, encounters and conflict? What kind of geographies did they create in the early modern world? What was their cultural value vis-à-vis their economic value? In short, we seek to explore the ways in which commodities and connections intersected in the early modern world.

This conference wishes to bring together scholars with expertise across a range of disciplines and geographic areas that came into direct contact in the early modern period, by which we mean the world between ca. 1400 and 1800. Of course many areas of the humanities and social sciences have expanded their enquiries in disciplinary and spatial terms, but truly global and interdisciplinary approaches still have to rely heavily on dialogue and collaboration between scholars. We hope that this conference will present an opportunity to bring together scholars from very different geographical and disciplinary backgrounds, who all share an interest in exploring commodities in global contexts.



A programme can be downloaded here - December Programme


Extension of 'Early Bird' Registration

The registration fee is £100 (£45 for students), payable by 15 October 2012 Monday 5th November 2012. The late registration fee (after 5th November 2012) is £120 (£60 for students). One-day attendance is £65 (£75 for late registration) and for students £30 (£40 after 5th November 2012). Please note that the registration fee covers lunch and coffee breaks, but does not include accommodation or travel expenses. Participants are expected to organise and cover the cost for their own travel.

Please complete the ONLINE FORM to register for the conference.



Accommodation can be booked via 'Warwick Conferences' by using this Online Accommodation Booking Form. Two types of accommodation are available: single rooms in the Conference Park; or double rooms at Radcliffe Conference Centre. Radcliffe has also bar and restaurant facilities.


Postgraduate & Travel Funding

The Global History and Culture Centre has made available a number of Postgraduate Bursaries and Travel grants for speakers and participants. This has been made possible thanks to the financial support of the Economic History Society.

If you have any questions related to funding please, contact: Ms Anna Dawson at


If you have any further questions, please contact us at:


This Conference is supported by:


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Image Credits:

Cup and cover, sixteenth century, Nuremberg. Nautilus shell in silver-gilt mount. V&A 863:1, 2-1882. © V&A.

Tilly Kettle (1734–1786), Two English boys in Asian clothing, 1780s. Museum purchase, 2011.40.1. Peabody Essex Museum, Salem Massachusetts.

Inro, Japan, ca. 1775-1850. Pfungst Gift. V&A W.207:1-1922. © V&A.

Palampore, Coromandel coast, India, ca. 1720-40. Given by G. P. Baker. V&A IS.36-1950. © V&A.