Decolonizing Early Medieval Sovereignties

Mo Pareles, University of British Columbia
Robert Rouse, University of British Columbia
Wallace Cleaves, UC-Riverside

The archipelago of Britain and the surrounding islands during the early medieval period was comprised of multiple, incommensurable sovereignties. A complex and dynamic enviroscape defined by cultural and political ebbs and flows, whose histories have been multiply appropriated to anchor colonialism, racism, and empire, the archipelago now requires decolonial and transtemporal analysis.
This three-session seminar will seek to examine early medieval (pre-1290) British archipelagic sovereignties both in their own right and through conversations with indigenous and postcolonial/decolonial scholarship. Participants will be asked to work with a central theoretical text (Linda Tuhiwai Smith's Decolonizing Methodologies) and to bring their own readings of primary archipelagic texts to the conversation. While remaining cognizant of the historical and cultural specificity of early archipelagic histories, as well as of their violent afterlives in British colonialism, participants will seek to illuminate, explore, re-imagine, and re-construe the way in which we view the cultural enviroscapes of the early medieval British archipelagic and to imagine productive and mutually enriching conversations between early medieval studies and indigenous/postcolonial studies.

The seminar will admit 10-12 participants. We particularly encourage proposals from early career researchers and from BIPOC scholars and those in indigenous studies. You may apply to this seminar even if you are already organizing another IONA seminar.

Please send proposals of under 250 words by July 1 to any of the organizers: Robert Rouse (, Mo Pareles (, Wallace Cleaves ( Please include your contact information, any institutional and departmental affiliation, and AV needs. Please feel free to contact the organizers with questions in advance of the deadline.

Simon Fraser University’s Vancouver campus is located on the traditional territories of the Squamish (Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw), Tsleil-Waututh (səl̓ilw̓ətaʔɬ), and Musqueam (xwməθkwəy̓əm) Nations.