Pocahontas and After:

historical culture and transatlantic encounters, 1617-2017


The British Library and the Institute of Historical Research, London

March 16-18, 2017


A major international interdisciplinary conference to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Pocahontas’ death.


In 2017 the Anglo-American world will mark the 400th anniversary of the death of Pocahontas.  Her story has been romanticised at many points over the centuries, and multiple representations of Pocahontas (as Noble Savage, Mother of a Nation, propaganda icon, seductive temptress) have materialised in historical accounts, in literature, and in visual, and material culture, and performance art.  From a range of historical and literary perspectives, and for a variety of social and political purposes, Pocahontas has left an enduring legacy among Indigenous, local, national, and international communities.


This conference will explore the continued interest in Pocahontas as a subject of study.  It will examine the academic challenges posed by the multiple versions and the contemporary appropriations of this Powhatan/Pamunkey woman variously known as Amonute, Matoaka, Pocahontas, and Rebecca.  In exploring the life and afterlives of Pocahontas, it aims to open new interdisciplinary discussions.


Papers are thus welcomed from all disciplinary perspectives, including (but not limited to) literary studies; film and media studies; cultural studies; gender and indigenous studies; art history; transatlantic and early modern studies; and particularly, from Native American perspectives.  Comparative work is also encouraged, as are contributions from early career researchers.  We additionally encourage contributions that shed new light on the British Library and the Institute of Historical Research’s collections related to Pocahontas.


Suggested themes include:

  • Indigenous feminism
  • Pocahontas’ literary afterlife
  • Pocahontas on film
  • Pocahontas and political resistance
  • Pocahontas in material culture
  • The commodification of Pocahontas
  • Comparative approaches to Pocahontas (eg. La Malinche)
  • Pocahontas and Bloomsbury
  • Teaching Pocahontas, and Pocahontas as subject of academic enquiry.


Confirmed plenary speakers:

Professor Mishuana Goeman (UCLA)

Professor Karen Kupperman (NYU)

Professor Camilla Townsend (Rutgers)

Dr Karenne Wood (Virginia Indian Heritage Programme)


The Satuday 18th will host a range of cultural activities, including:

  • A special session: ‘Historic Jamestown and new perspectives on Pocahontas’ with Jim Horn and Bill Kelso.
  • A panel debate on the iconography of Pocahontas and its relationship to contemporary indigenous women’s political and social issues. Confirmed speakers: Joanne Prince of Rainmaker Gallery, Bristol; Shelley Niro, Mohawk film-maker and artist; Dr Max Carocci, Chelsea College of Art; Dr David Stirrup, Reader in Indigenous and Settler Literatures of the Americas at the University of Kent; and Dr Buck Woodard, Colonial Williamsburg, American Indian Initiative.
  • Screening of Reel Injun and Indigenous London with director Q&A’s
  • A musical performance by singer-songwriter ElizaBeth Hill


250-word abstracts together with a short biography should be submitted to eccles-centre@bl.uk (please include subject line: Pocahontas and After conference) by Midnight (GMT) Wednesday 14th December.  We aim to offer a number of bursaries for postgraduates and early career researchers to offset costs.