The past—mediated through written, visual, or material sources—is filled with empty spaces. Incomplete versions of what happened have been taken at face value, passed through time as representing the “real,” and validating particular kinds of the historical understanding devoid of (un)documented actors, practices, and processes.
Over the past few decades, scholars have been increasingly interested in voices from “underneath”, lending their ear to, for example, oral histories, messages between the lines, hints, clues, symbols, humor, satires, gestures, or objects to unearth that which has been doomed to non-existence or silence. This approach to historical sources could be labeled as relying on “weak evidence,” for even though it breaks the silence, it escapes clear-cut explanations. How can we retrieve voices from the past? When is “weak evidence” evidence enough to challenge or even replace dominant and established historical interpretations and narratives? To what kind of evidence do we grant higher authority over the other and why? How is authority attached to a piece of evidence? What is the purpose of establishing authority? Is it to state that something actually happened? Or to create an authentic world that looks as veridic as possible? How can a source be used to represent or construct truth?
We invite graduate students working on any topic or period in European history and/or Europe in global perspective to delve into these questions and consider the multiple layers conveyed by the notion of historical authority and its implicit elements in historical perspective.
We welcome submissions dealing with oral history, popular history, history of science, material history, intellectual history, history of ideas, book history, literary history, art history, social history, political history, legal history, historical anthropology, history in public sphere, archeology, museum studies, media history, and gender history.
Topics may include but are not limited to:
- Voices and truth from below: voices of minorities, marginalized, oppressed/suppressed groups (on the basis of race, class, gender, religion and many more)
- Establishing and identifying authority and truth in written, visual, material sources: expressing agency, creating authenticity, authorial practices and authorship, self-fashioning
- Whose authority? Whose truth?: Practices, regimes and actors of authority, crafting official scientific and historical discourses, forms of erasure, violence, (un)truth, and (in)justice
- Mediality and materiality: displaying authority, emblems/signifiers of authority, objects as tokens of authority and truth, “making history” through objects, fakes, distortions, and reproductions
- Historical truth in/and literary evidence: the status of historical fiction, the power of myths, propaganda, literature as a historical source, reimagining history across genres (fiction, non-fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, drama, poetry, folktale, and so on)
- What happened? What is said to have happened?: Layers of authority, “meta” methodological approaches to history writing, critically engaging with historical narratives and historiography, the issue of objective past, “making history” and institutions (institutes, archives, museums, and so forth)
This conference is open to all graduate students. We particularly encourage submissions from those who have not presented their work at conferences before or are from underrepresented regions and/or institutions. We hope to be able to support travel and/or accommodation for a limited number of presenters without access to institutional funding.
Please send abstracts up to 300 words and a brief biography (max 100 words) to email@example.com by 17 January 2023. Participants will receive a notification of acceptance by 17 February 2023. Final papers (up to 2000 words) should be submitted by 17 March 2023 for pre-circulation.
- Clio Doyle (Queen Mary University of London)
- James Kapaló (University College Cork)