Theme Issue of Tempo: History as diagnosis

The medical or therapeutic concepts of pathology, symptoms, crisis and diagnosis abound in
theories and historiography about modern society (Edmund Husserl’s The Crisis of the
European Sciences, Reinhart Koselleck’s Critique and Crisis. Enlightenment and the
Pathogenesis of Modern Society, and Axel Honneth’s Pathologies of Reason are just a few
examples). Rather than using ready-made diagnoses of what the problem or illness is, what the
pathology is about, what its causes and determining conditions are, it would be more fruitful
and productive to develop an approach that actually makes an independent form of diagnosis.
This would be important and valuable not only for research, but also for the critical function of
historical knowledge in society. There is quite a lot of research that consists in applying ready-
made theoretical perspectives on some particular case, too often with predictable conclusions.
What if the point of departure was rather: how should we theorize about this phenomenon, this
pattern, this problem? One background to our present situation is that the courses we give on
‘ theory and method’ tend to present to the students a number of different theoretical
perspectives plus some basic methods, rather than methods on or tools for theorizing (how to
theorize). As historians we do not learn to develop theory for history and, thus, we do not
develop creative diagnosis of the problems we are faced with. There is a lack of theorizing. To
keep up to date, it is therefore important to learn to theorize. Such a development is already
underway in sociology, and historians need to explore the specific possibilities of historical
theorizing. Thus, it would be interesting to collect theoretical ideas and analytical case studies
of historiography that together throw light on how historians can make independent historical
diagnoses of the problems and pathologies of society, a historical period, a political regime, a
cultural pattern etc.

We invite scholars (with a PhD) to address the following themes and questions:

  • What could theorizing mean for history? What intellectual operations, tools and guidelines would be helpful for historians in developing relevant theoretical perspectives in a critical and insightful way?
  • How can diagnosis as a form of critical theorizing make critical perspectives less repetitive and more intelligent, perceptive and discerning?
  • How can a theorizing form of history as diagnosis be developed as an alternative to instrumentalist political narratives of crises that tend to identify what the crisis is about and its explanation with the opposite of what the activist/researcher already wants to promote?
  • How can we cope critically with events that are considered as  ‘ critical’, as  ‘ limit events’, sometimes without proper empirical examination, conceptual coherence or proper phenomenological description?

The papers should be in English and between 36,000 and 64,000 characters long (including
spaces, three keywords, abstract up to 950 characters, footnotes and bibliography). Please
follow the guidelines for authors before submitting:

Submit full papers online not later than 15 January 2019 at:
Questions about the submitting process can be sent to:
Questions about or suggestions for articles for the theme issue can be sent to the editors of the

Editors of the theme issue  ‘ History as Diagnosis’: Prof. Dr. Pedro Caldas – Department of
History/ Universidade Federal do Estado do Rio de Janeiro (UNIRIO), Docent Martin
Wiklund, Assistant Prof. – Department of Culture and Aesthetics (Section of History of
Ideas), Stockholm University (Sweden)

About the Journal: Tempo Journal (ISSN: 1980-542X – QualisA1) is a quarterly online open
access and peer-reviewed academic journal publishing articles in English, Portuguese,
Spanish and French. It is linked to the Department of History and the Post-Graduate Program
in History of Universidade Federal Fluminense. QualisA1 stands for the highest possible
grade in the Brazilian evaluation system for academic journals.

Posted: 15-08-2018 | Updated: 07-03-2022