Conference: The 20th International Conference on Conceptual History

Concepts in the World: Politics, Knowledge, and Time

As the annual International Conference on Conceptual History celebrates its twentieth anniversary, conceptual history is gaining ground in an ever-increasing number of fields, disciplines and parts of the world. The number of scholars identifying with some version of conceptual history is increasing, as is the breadth of topics, theories, and approaches. This conference aims to reflect that diversity.

Few other approaches are as conducive to dialogues across disciplinary borders, and we want to use this occasion to invite in all those who center their inquiry on social, historical, political and scientific concepts and their history. Our ambition is that this conference shall be both a meeting-place for all those working on conceptual history, regardless of approach or topic, while also trying to expand the field by soliciting proposals on three specific, although broad themes:


1. Concepts in the World
Acknowledging that conceptual history is moving beyond single-language traditions of inquiry, and that scholars working on non-European material have begun using conceptual history as a tool for philological study, we want to encourage more studies of entanglements between traditions, translations as well as more cross-linguistic comparison. Trying to move away from the Eurocentrism that is almost inevitable in a field that emerged and flourished in Europe, and the single-language (and often national language) focus that often also pervades those using conceptual history on non-European texts, we seek papers that explore new ways of studying the entanglements between different linguistic traditions, in their most historically specific and practical forms like transfers and translations as well as in their theoretical ramifications, moving beyond Europe and beyond Western modernity.


2. Conceptual history as history of knowledge
Among the most innovative fields in the humanities and social sciences in the last decades has been the history and sociology of science, or, in a more comprehensive mode, the history of knowledge. Independent of the different disciplinary labels, like history of science, STS, historical epistemology, or Wissensgeschichte, all these approaches give attention to concepts used to gain new knowledge, defend old, or make claims to truth and authority, always in connections with non-linguistic practices, technologies, and instruments. For this conference we invite papers that explore the interface between the history of concepts and the history of knowledge, by means of case studies, theoretical exchanges, or explorations of key figures and traditions in both fields.


3. The Multiple Times of Concepts and Histories
Modernization and globalization have brought about more complex and heterogeneous temporal relations, in which the global times of commerce, technology and media come in conflict with the different rhythms and dynamics in diverse cultures and communities. At present, one of the foremost challenges for policy makers, as well as researchers in the humanities and social sciences, is to find ways to understand the existence of multiple temporalities within the overarching narrative of global progress. The plurality of historical times poses a major challenge for anyone who aims to map the intentions or causes leading up to an event, the consequences following from it, or to decide if an event constitutes rupture or continuity with what lies before and comes after it. Conceptual history stands out from other approaches in the way it is able to identify and analyze the multiple temporalities of human life and history, based on what Reinhart Koselleck referred to as “a theory of historical times”. However, in order to make good on this theoretical heritage new and critical engagements with the Eurocentric, modernist, and historicist biases framing this line inquiry are necessary, as are new and innovative studies of the vocabularies of time in different languages as well as the practices they are linked to.

Proposals for individual papers should be no longer than 400 words, and proposals for panels should not exceed 800 words. Short bios of the speakers should be added (maximum 100 words). Panels at the conference will last two hours. There should be no more than four papers and a discussant/chair per panel.

Please send your proposals to

The deadline for sending in proposals is 15 April 2017

Authors will be notified of paper acceptance or non-acceptance at latest the 15 May.

Posted: 06-03-2017 | Updated: 14-10-2022