29 October 2018

Conference Cultures of Security in the Nineteenth Century

On 9 and 10 May 2019 the History Department will host the closing conference of the ERC-project Securing Europe, Fighting Its Enemies. The Making of a Security Culture in Europe and Beyond, 1815–1914 at Utrecht University.

The theme of the event is security cultures in the nineteenth century. We define ‘security culture’ in a broad sense, as the set of norms, beliefs and practices by which security threats are defined and corresponding actions taken. New cultures of security took shape over the course of the nineteenth century through inter-imperial cooperation and troubled encounters in colonial contact zones. In an age of increased mobility of peoples, goods, resources and technologies, and increasing economic, political, religious and strategic global entanglements, security steadily became a matter to be dealt with transimperially, i.e. across, in-between and beyond imperial borders. Agents of empires and their local counterparts enacted security all over the world. Rivers, seas, forests, mountains, port cities, countries, continents and peoples were thus drawn into imperial spaces even when they were not under the constitutional responsibility or within the formal territorial boundaries of imperial states.


‘Cultures of Security in the Nineteenth Century’ will focus on how cooperation and competition took place in-between empires, taking the shape of indigenous reactions to imperial encroachments, contingent projects of treaty-making, expanding river regimes and the fights against anarchists and pirates. The conference will hence consist of four panels:

  • Preludes and legacies of international treaties of peace and security,
  • River regimes and commissions established for guaranteeing free trade,
  • Collaborative fights against anarchists and piracy,
  • Transimperial (military) interventions and extraterritorial security institutions.