Conceptual history is a clearly interdisciplinary field of study. Its practice entails the critical combination of methods, techniques, and insights from different disciplines.
Not frequently thematised, this awareness has become a commonplace for conceptual historians – an apparently unproblematic assumption, yet one very rarely spelt out. The 21st International Conference on the History of Concepts aims at shifting the focus and exploring a buzzword that has been perceived as an undisputed methodological starting point or an uncontroversial rhetorical device in the practice of conceptual history.
When considered in detail, the issue raises a number of questions. Do transfers between disciplines compromise the identity of conceptual history or rather is conceptual history inherently interdisciplinary? If we agree with the latter, interdisciplinarity might be seen in a positive light. Histories of concepts are frequently eclectic and difficult to grasp from a single perspective, and interdisciplinary methods seem to match the complexity of the task.
But the gains of interdisciplinarity could also be questioned. While the terms inter-, multi-, cross-, and transdisciplinary tend to be used interchangeably, there is also the issue about their epistemic value. Interdisciplinary research can sometimes be disorienting and paralysing, particularly when it is considered merely as an end in itself. Moreover, its allegedly boundless character can be highlighted: can we constantly redraw the boundaries between disciplines only to find out that they have become obsolete once we have finished the redesign?
From a practical point of view, should interdisciplinary translate into an intensified debate with colleagues from other disciplines? Or else, if it is to be institutionalised, how will that link conceptual history and with other fields of study?
We invite scholars working in a wide array of areas who are interested in political, social, historical, legal, and scientific concepts and their history. Possible topics upon which submissions are welcome include, but are not limited to:
The historical configuration of disciplines
The history of the concept of interdisciplinarity: multi-, pluri-, cross-, transdisciplinarity
New research paths and the future of conceptual history: how emerging disciplines enrich conceptual history (for instance, digital humanities and new technologies)
Interdisciplinary histories of concepts: study cases
The spatial turn in conceptual history and interdisciplinarity: is the circulation of concepts a typically interdisciplinary phenomenon?
Interdisciplinary and history subfields. Conceptual history and other historical disciplines such as intellectual history, social history, economic history, and cultural history