Colonial cities, especially port cities, as well as border regions between empires have historically played a decisive role in the perception of colonial rule. They formed key transitional spaces in political, social, cultural, economic, administrative, military and religious conflicts and can be regarded as having held particularly prominent hinge positions with respect to the mobility – in some cases the limited mobility – of people, animals, goods, ideas, epidemics and much more. Hence as kinds of “crossroad regions”, they have been places where questions of the imperial states’ and societies’ security/insecurity have been addressed very differently.
The summer school will focus on colonial cities and imperial border regions as spaces that developed representative positions of respective colonialisms and imperialisms, also as a way to re-center colonial political and economic power. Moreover, they can be seen as part of a network that existed beyond a single colonial point of reference, for example in the relationship between Shanghai and Singapore and Jakarta, or in the connections between Riga and the Russian Empire.
In the long 19th century (1780-1920), and thus in an intermediate phase between two decolonization processes, colonial cities and border regions formed spaces of intensive inter-imperial interactions (as well as rivalries), as “crossroad regions” so to speak, where dynamics of intertwinement developed through transnational interrelationships. The research interests of the summer school will draw on these ideas by recognizing colonial cities and border regions as instruments of various forms and mechanisms of expansion, in which conflicts (around mobility) were carried out just as opportunities for cooperation were sought. Not infrequently, these places reflected experimental phases – concerning the conceptualization of laboratories between colonial and transnational interrelationships, as well as the securitization, and, not least, on the re-centering of the “peripheries”.