History and Culture

Comparative Wests

Transnational Perspectives on Rapid Cultural, Economic, and Environmental Transformations in the 19th Century Settler Colonies of Western Australia, Western Canada, the Western United States, and the Pacific Islands.

This project involves periodic scholarly seminars at Stanford, conferences in collaboration with other universities, and publications. Our study of the Comparative Wests grows out of a recognition that between studies of a homogeneous western colonialism on the one hand, and discrete, often exceptionalist national histories and literatures, on the other, there is room for a set of studies that look at how nation states have incorporated lands that they claimed but did not fully control. 

What we are calling Comparative Wests addresses that lacuna. These studies examine the simultaneous expansion of 19th century settler colonies into the western United States, western Canada, and the western Pacific, including Australia and the Pacific Islands, and the rapid cultural, economic, and environmental transformations they set off, as well as the enduring legacies and challenges of that history.

For more information, please contact Douglas Bird at dwbird@stanford.edu.

Project Partners

University of Washington
University of Western Australia


Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
Stanford Humanities Center
Humanities Research Center, Australian National University



Other Researchers

Doug Bird
Jared Dahl Aldern
Nicholas Viles
Brian Codding