CFP: "Historians as Engaged Intellectuals: historical writing and social criticism" - 19-21 September 2013, Ruhr University-Bochum (Germany) - Deadline: December 30, 2012

The International Commission for the History and Theory of
Historiography (ICHTH; see ) is going to organize an
open conference on “Historians as Engaged Intellectuals: Historical
Writing and Social Criticism” at Ruhr University-Bochum, Sept.19-21,
2013. Any ICHTH members interested in presenting their papers at the
conference could submit a 150 words abstract to Professor Stefan
Berger [] by Dec. 30, 2012.

Historians as Engaged Intellectuals: historical writing and social

The first open conference of the ICTCH (International Commission on
the History and Theory of Historiography) will be held at the
Institute for the History of Social Movements, Ruhr-University
Bochum, 19 – 21 September 2013.

In the twentieth century Marxist historiography went furthest in
demanding from scholars partisanship for the poor and the oppressed
in society.
Historians were neither to be antiquarians nor chase the illusions of
objectivity postulated by European historism. Whilst in Communist
countries, the ruling Communist Parties disallowed any deviations
from the historical interpretations it prescribed, in non-Communist
countries Marxist scholars belonged to the most engaged intellectuals
writing history as an intervention into social and political debates.
The influence of 1968 and the anti-colonial struggle on
historiography ensured that the idea of the historian as an engaged
intellectual became widespread across the globe. However, by the
1980s, this idea had run into difficulties, as the Marxist project
seemed to run out of steam.
Nevertheless, social protest has not gone away. After all, the 1980s
witnessed massive peace and ecological movements as well as the
social protest against Communist dictatorships, which all found
considerable interest among historians, and more recently we have
seen, with movements such as Attac or Occupy, that some scholars are
involved in transmitting concepts and categories from the realm of
their studies to the movements themselves, whilst, at the same time,
making the movements case studies in their disciplines. Today, with
Communism gone and Western liberalism far from triumphant, it may be
time to revisit the relationship between historical scholarship and
societal engagement. Should historians intervene in the social and
political debates of contemporary societies?
How have they done so in the past? For what causes did historians
write and with which effects? Did they participate in social
movements and, at the same time, make social movements the objects of
their studies?
Feminism, poststructuralism and postcolonialism all deeply influenced
historical writing after the 1970s – to what extent did they promote
the emergence of engaged intellectuals among historians?

Latin American historians dealing with traumatic memories by the
dictatorships and tortures, the experience and the thinking of
historians on the Commissions of Truth and Reconciliation in South
Africa and other countries, the experience of engaged historians in
the Muslim countries under the threat of Islamic Law and of course
the anti- and post-colonial experience

We invite submissions of papers which reflect on past and present
attempts to write history from the perspective of societal
interventions, including papers which do so with reference to the
theory of history the history of historical studies popular history
history and memory

Please send an abstract of no more than 150 words to Stefan Berger by
30 December 2012. All those who have proposed papers will be notified
by email as to whether their paper has been accepted by 27 February

The Berendel Foundation has kindly provided limited financial
assistance to junior scholars without institutional affiliation, and
scholars from poorer countries. If your participation is contingent
upon receipt of financial support, please include details of why such
support is needed along with your abstract.

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