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Graduate conference 2023

Graduate Student Conference—June 2, 2023 in Harris 108, Evanston campus

“Commercial Networks: Connections, Conflicts, Exchanges”

convened by Claire ARNOLD (T.H. Breen Fellow at the CCHS)

Call for Papers: Deadline February 3, 2023

Commercial networks have connected people across regions, class, and culture throughout history, and historians have subsequently made use of these networks to study everything from the production of trust to scientific development to imperial expansion. Yet these studies often remain confined within their own subfield, whether geographic or temporal. This conference seeks to consider the commercial network as its own subject from the medieval to modern era. It takes an inclusive definition of commercial networks that includes formal and informal, legal and illicit, and local and global exchanges.

What features characterize a commercial network? What relationships are required for them to function and how are they formed? Who has access and who is excluded? Do these networks reinforce, circumvent, or challenge political categories such as nation, state, and empire? And how are commercial networks distinct from religious, intellectual, or religious networks?

  “Commercial Networks” seeks to bring together graduate students from different fields whose work addresses the above questions. The conference will be held in-person on June 2, 2023 at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL. Jessica Hanser of the University of British Columbia will be the keynote speaker. Professor Hanser is a historian of early modern Britain and China, with interests in exchange, the drug trade, and global microhistory. For more on Professor Hanser’s work, see

Interested graduate students should submit proposals (250 words) and CV to Claire Arnold ( by February 3. Papers will be selected by a committee of Northwestern faculty. Accepted papers (10-12 pages double-spaced) are due before the conference on May 12 for faculty commentators to read. The conference presentations are limited to no more than 10 minutes each.

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