Call for Papers

Culture & International History VI: Visions of Humanity

6-8 May 2019 in Berlin

John F. Kennedy Institute, Freie Universitaet Berlin

Deadline: July 8, 2018


The conference Culture and International History VI will take place from 6 – 8 May 2019 in Berlin. The conference marks the 20th anniversary of the symposium cycle that began in 1999 and has since taken place in Wittenberg, Frankfurt, Cologne, and Berlin; key themes and contributions have been published in Berghahn Books’ series Explorations in Culture and International History (Oxford, New York, since 2003).

“Visions of Humanity” seeks to address the growing interest in historical ideas, statements, policies and actions invoking trans-, international and global audiences in the name of common concern. These may be manifest in activism relating to human rights, policies invoking humanitarian action, cultural output imagining trans-border societies, ideas wedding technology and the human, international protest against mechanisms of marginalization, cross-cultural canon-building (“the humanities”) and attempts to define “humanity” in academic disciplines. International history is full of people and organizations invoking visions of humanity in an effort to create common notions of identity (“we”) based on international and global reference points. But who constituted “we”? What made “us” similar? Who was part of humanity, who wasn’t? What were the mechanisms of inclusion and exclusion in humanity? And who defined and contested these criteria and decisions?

The symposium will focus on visions of humanity as they crystallize in the history of diplomatic and informal fora as well as in the context of specific debates. Specifically, the conference seeks to compare 20th-century approaches in North American and transatlantic history to other regions and earlier periods. The range of possible topics includes but is not limited to:

  • The human rights diplomacy of indigenous people
  • Arts, international relations and visions of humanity
  • Humanity and the humanities in international exchange
  • The concept of humanity in diplomatic and legal parlance
  • Minority rights vs. universal rights in international history
  • Cultural diplomacy in the name of human rights & humanitarian action

We invite students and scholars of International History, Modern History, Area Studies, Theater Studies, Cultural Studies, Musicology, Art History, Psychology, Social Science, Anthropology and related fields to submit proposals before July 8, 2018. Proposals should include 1. a brief cover letter, 2. the title of the paper and an abstract of max. 500 words, 3. a one-page CV (all in one pdf-file). Proposals for panels will also be considered (chair/commentator, three panelists). Pending approval, individual speakers may apply for funds covering the cost of travel and accommodation and should mention this in their application. Participants who have an interest in the topic and would like to attend the conference without delivering a paper are welcome and should contact the organizers.

Please submit proposals and questions to:

Jessica Gienow-Hecht
Sebastian Jobs
Sönke Kunkel

For more information, please visit the Freie Universitaet Berlin conference website.