Masterclass David Pomfret (University of Hong Kong): Foregrounding marginal groups in historical analysis – Nijmegen, 8 July 2019

Foregrounding marginal groups in historical analysis
Masterclass with David M. Pomfret

Date: July 8 2019, 10.00 – 14.00, lunch included
Venue: Radboud University Nijmegen, SP A 01.12

Open to: PhD candidates and research master students.

David Pomfret’s seminal work Youth and Empire has convincingly shown the value of integrating historically marginal groups of people, such as children, in transnational research on the fashioning of empire, social aspects of imperialism and ideas of global modernity and mobility. Pomfret’s bottom-up approach, inventive use of source material, and conceptualisation of childhood allow him to successfully frame children not only as objects who were “acted upon” by adults but as historical agents in their own right.

In this masterclass, professor Pomfret invites PhD candidates and research master stude nts to reflects on ways in which marginalised groups of people can become the central actors of one’s research project. What approaches, sources, methodologies, theories or concepts can be used? How can concepts like agency be operationalised in order to contribute to “inclusive” research on (historical) processes of marginalisation? What research questions or topics are afforded by dismissing ‘marginal’ as an identity, and instead considering social, economic and cultural positioning as contingent across time and place?

Aims of the masterclass
1. To consider what conceptual and methodological approaches can be applied to centre marginalised groups of people as actors in (historical) research projects. David Pomfret’s work on children and young people and the ways in which they engaged in imperial projects serves as a point of entry for this consideration.
2. To consider in what ways historical conceptualisations of certain groups of people were produced and lived, how these socio-cultural categories travelled through space and time, and what this means for your own conceptualisations as researcher.
3. To reflect on research questions and topics afforded by the inclusion of marginal(ised) groups as historical actors in research projects.

About the speaker
David M. Pomfret is Professor of History at the University of Hong Kong. His research specialisations are in British and French history, histories of Childhood and Youth, and the transnational and comparative history of modern Europe and its empires. His recent ground-breaking monograph Youth and Empire: Trans-Colonial Childhoods in British and French Asia (2016), which was awarded the 2017 Grace Abbott Best Book Award, is the first study of its kind to engage with colonialism through the lens of childhood. By utilizing a diverse range of unpublished source materials drawn from three different continents, David M. Pomfret examines the emergence of youth and childhood as a central historical force in the global history of empire in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Focusing upon histories of children, their agency, and how concepts of childhood travelled, this research has illuminated how metropolitan and colonial discourses and practices intersected and interacted. Through his conceptualization of a historically marginalised population like colonial children, Pomfret asks new questions and provides insights in issues of childhood, race, authority and responsibility that are highly relevant for international and intercultural research projects.

Requirements for the masterclass
It is possible to either participate in or attend this masterclass.

The participants:
• Are invited to submit a ‘think piece’ in which they reflect on the historical positioning and conceptualisation of the actors in their own research projects and the sources, concepts, theories and methodologies they use to study these actors. The deadline for this text (600-1200 words) is June 28 2019. The think pieces will be circulated among the participants and attendees of the masterclass in advance;
• Are asked to prepare a brief (informal) presentation of ca. 5 minutes in which they briefly introduce their research and discuss the contents of their think piece.

The attendees:
• Have read the ‘think pieces’;
• Have familiarised themselves with the work of prof. Pomfret.

Given the limited number of attendees/participants we would like to hear from you as soon as possible (ultimately on Friday June 28, via whether and in what capacity you will participate.

Provisional programme
10.00 – 10.15: Introduction
10.15 – 10.45: David Pomfret: Youth and Empire – brief consideration of the conceptual and methodological approaches of children as historical actors: age matters! What else matters?
10.45 – 11.00: Coffee break
11.00 – 12.00: Presentations by participants
12.00 – 13.00: Discussion
13.00: Lunch
15u30: Public lecture by David Pomfret

Organizing Committee
Prof. dr. Marit Monteiro
Prof. dr. Geertje Mak
Marleen Reichgelt MA

For practical or other questions please send an e-mail to Marleen Reichgelt at