Risk and History: How to assess international historical research activities?
Round table, International Committee of Historical Sciences Congress
Jinan, China, 23 to 29th August 2015.
This call for applications aims to recruit researchers whose areas of specialization cover the various uses of risk in history, and who will be responsible for discussing a written assessment of the relevant international historical research and the outlook for related scholarly debates
The concept of “risk”—especially as developed by sociologists Ulrich Beck, Anthony Giddens and Robert Castel, anthropologist Mary Douglas, and political philosopher François Ewald—has been at the heart of numerous scholarly debates for more than two decades. Recently, the concept has attracted the attention of a growing number of individual historians from around the world, although this phenomenon has received little attention from the international historical community. For the time being, it seems clear that international historiography has largely favored the case study, if only to refute the teleological metanarrative of the “risk society” developed by Beck et al. But beyond inspiring a necessary backlash by historians, the concept of risk also encourages a reflection on how questions surrounding the role of risk in history should be framed. Indeed, the concept can serve to uncover a range of cross-disciplinary issues that might succeed in shoring up a scholarly discussion currently under threat from barriers springing up between different fields of research where an ever-increasing number of studies are being undertaken, fields such as the history of capitalism, of modes of governing poverty and crime, of technology, of relationships with nature, of physical and mental health, of family strategies, etc.
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