This is the H-Net-List of the International Scholars' Network "History of Societies and Socialisms" (HOSAS). HOSAS was launched in 2009 to advance and connect fresh approaches to the study of socialism in history. The thematic core of the network is defined by a wide understanding of the term "socialism" as both a world of ideas and a family of social and political movements. Accordingly, the network's title uses the plural form "socialisms" to stress the plurality of possible perspectives on socialism and the need to differentiate its study as a historical subject. The HOSAS-network – along with its list H-Socialisms – intends particularly to further the intellectual exchange among those working on the history of socialisms in the widest sense of the word, and to enhance their ability to jointly organize and realize specific projects such as workshops, conferences, panel proposals, research projects, and publications. Such networking may also have the welcome side effect of popularizing the study of socialisms in history and to raise the public awareness for this subject, its enduring and manifold impacts on the past and present, as well as its continuous relevance today and tomorrow.
We thus welcome scholars who deal with these phenomena in the widest possible sense. In order to inspire a trans- and interdisciplinary dialogue we very much hope to attract not only historians but also colleagues from other humanistic and social sciences. Their research perspectives can range from global to local, their chronological focus anywhere between the early 19th century and the present. We perceive ourselves as curious scholars seeking to cooperate and coordinate without having to create a rigid organizational structure. In November 2010, a first meeting took place at the International Institute for Social History in Amsterdam, which served as an informal founding act and brought together almost 50 scholars from around the world. Most importantly, HOSAS situates itself outside and beyond any political party affiliations. We believe that it remains necessary, especially today, to professionally address the history of socialism even though the historiography on the subject is vast and has a long tradition spanning more than a century.
Yet each generation raises their own questions, applies different theories and methods, and thus finds new or alternative answers to seemingly old questions. And it must not be forgotten that the historiography of socialism and the workers' movement has long been over-shadowed, sometimes even dictated, by dogmatism, ideological fervor and political interest. The "master narratives" about the origins, nature, theory, and practice, the costs and consequences of socialism, which have been drafted by older generations of scholars – whatever their political-ideological motives might have been – need to be critically revisited and, if prudent, even revised. Our network is dedicated to the integral study of the "history of societies and socialisms" and thus shall contribute to the mastering of this enormous challenge. With the H-Socialisms list we wish to widen and overcome our limited individual discursive spheres and research cabinets and to connect with others in the many fields of research involved without creating an esoteric circle of specialized freaks.