To honor the bicentennial of Saint Louis University, the Center for Intercultural Studies at Saint Louis University, in collaboration with other academic units, is hosting a conference entitles “Intercultural Origins of St. Louis and the Trans-Mississippi West, 1800-1840” to be held on March 22-23, 2018. Papers and panels will explore how the larger political, economic and cultural forces of the time intersected with the life of the city and the region. Politically, the Louisiana Purchase, the debates about Missouri statehood, the opening of the West, and the ensuing migrations had a profound effect on forging American nationhood. Economically, the location of St. Louis city allowed it to become a transportation hub linking several great rivers, attract much of the rapidly developing continental trade, and become a major center of fur trade. The explosive growth of the city would make it an early example of the challenges of urbanization. Culturally, the relationships between St. Louis and the region demarcated a distinctive terrain at the western edge of European colonizing empires and Indian homelands, where highly diverse peoples and cultures interacted with one another and underwent profound changes in the process. Walking the streets of St. Louis, one would encounter Americans, Indians, Canadians, Creole French, Mexicans, Africans, both slave and free, and later the Irish and Germans. As their mutual otherness was negotiated and domesticated, it became an indigenous component of local culture.
We are especially interested in these cultural interactions, in the ways the diffrences were navigated and creative adaptations made. Creolization, hybridity, and mixing take place even if the dialogue amongst the groups is asymmetrical and constrained by relations of power. Other themes will include: St. Louis and Saint Louis Univeristy, St. Louis and the Fur Trade, St. Louis and the Exploration of the Trans-Mississippi West, St. Louis and Slavery, St. Louis and Indigenous Peoples, St. Louis and the Politics of Statehood, and St. Louis and the Urban Experience.