Call for Papers

UPDATE! Perspectives of Contemporary History – Zeitgeschichtetage 2010

The Zeitgeschichtetage (the Bi-Annual Conference of Contemporary History) 2010 will take place from 26 May to 28 May 2010 at the Institut für Zeitgeschichte der Universität Wien (the Institute of Contemporary History at Vienna University).

The main aim of the conference is to discuss and debate recent developments in contemporary history, identifying new themes and assessing the role and legitimacy of this field of historical research.

It is time to update and reassess these changes.

This event is designed to serve as an international forum for the exchange of ideas about on-going research. The conference will focus primarily on the implications of research in the field of contemporary history: to what extent does this type of research make a specific contribution to the interdisciplinary analysis of current developments, whether economic, social, scientific, cultural or political in terms of both national politics and geopolitics? Secondly, the conference will analyse the discipline of contemporary history itself. To what extent does contemporary history have a specific interpretative authority and can its claims to be relevant in terms of social policy and public debate be justified?

We hope to foster a dialogue with the artistic community which will result in new research perspectives and also to invite the general public to take part.

A) Tracks

The panels will be divided into five thematic networks (tracks):

1. Contemporary History, Politics, Science and Economics

This track will focus on the interrelationship between politics, economics and scientific developments in the 20th and 21st centuries. Challenges for state actors and institutions arising from the increasing participation of international actors and from changes in civil society will be discussed in the light of current approaches which are being pursued in political history, as well as those resulting from the recent paradigm shift in economic history. In particular, we hope to stimulate ideas on which fresh and alternative perspectives in contemporary history can develop from these new historical methodologies.
In addition, our aim is to highlight the impact of scientific knowledge on all sectors of society as a key structural feature of modernity and to show the impact of its diverse forms. Technological, medical and scientific findings have influenced and shaped both political and economic processes, as well as the conduct of everyday life in the 20th century, to an unprecedented extent. This is particularly in evidence during phases of social transition. The interaction between political and economic spheres and a number of scientific and scholarly disciplines will also be discussed in relation to the production, consolidation and adaptation of gender stereotypes.

2. Contemporary History, Interpretation, Hegemony

History has a significant contribution to make to the formation of political identities and provides, therefore, material for political controversies. Where does this leave research in contemporary history? What roles does research assign to social groups that have been discriminated against on the basis of gender, origin or religion? In what ways should or could research contribute to alleviating those forms of discrimination? In public debates historians are usually accorded a comprehensive status as experts. In this way they play an active role in the struggle for hegemony and ‘moral capital’. This is clearly contradicted by the self-perception of historians in general whose self-confidence and trust in the relevance of their discipline has not yet recovered from structuralist critique. What goods can contemporary historians actually ‘deliver’ and for whom? Relatively little attention has been devoted to date to the appropriation of both research results and the research effort itself by civil society. What experiences have been made to date that we can draw on, which questions arise, not only regarding research itself, but also its popularisation and its exploitation for the benefit of society? What forms of public-mediation work in the field of contemporary history have proved effective? What forms have failed to deliver?

3. Contemporary History and Culture

The differentiation of research in contemporary history since the so-called ‘Cultural Turn’ has increasingly resulted in directing attention at both material and symbolic aspects of cultural practices. In the context of contemporary history, the historical interactions between elite and popular cultures and the effects and the reception of media formations will be explored, as well as issues concerning public debates and cultural codes. Priority will be given to the question of those actors who are invariably identifiable according to attributes based on class, ‘race’ and gender and of their specific subjectivation techniques and and the action potentially inherent in their everyday lives. As ‘historical perceptions’ originate above all from material and symbolic pictures, a consideration of visual culture in the analysis of the sources is becoming increasingly more important.
For the track ‘Contemporary History and Culture’, the methodologies employed by Oral History in the study of everyday life are crucial, as is the use of audiovisual media, film and photography. This relates to the ‘Visual Turn’ and/or ‘Visual History’ and its effects on the historical construction of identities, and, last but not least, the ‘Spatial Turn’ in the exploration of architecture and power structures of lived-in spaces.
Special interest will be given to contributions dealing with these (and related) topics that pay consideration to an analysis of the gender dimension.

4. Contemporary History Between National and Transnational perspectives

At the beginning of the 21st century the political and societal significance of international networks and global interdependencies is more in evidence than ever. This is reflected in a methodological shift within historical studies, which increasingly strive to transcend the still dominant nationally defined perspectives in favour of transnational relationships and frames of reference. What are the difficulties that confront contemporary history’s attempts to reconstruct such transfer processes? What contribution can the most recent transnational and comparative research approaches make to the exploration of topics that have hitherto been dealt with almost exclusively in national terms, such as topics of everyday history, of the research on violence, dictatorship, herstory and gender issues? Which are the most important issues of transnational history which should be prioritized?
In the light of the growing importance of transnational perspectives, questions concerning the different stages and the consequences of scientific and cultural transfers and such topics as migration as a catalyst of supra-regional processes of exchange are demanding more and more attention. What impact do transnational processes have in different parts of the world on politics, culture and the economy and how do they affect different population groups, social relationships and family networks? This makes contributions focusing on national heroines/heroes and victims, or on myths and traditions before the backdrop of growing international networking, especially welcome.

5. Free Submissions (Open Space)

The organizers will group individual submissions into panels according to thematic criteria.

B) Submission of Papers

Papers may be submitted as individual submissions or as complete panels. In the latter case gender parity is desirable. Multiple submissions per person (e. g. one single submission and an application as a speaker in a panel) are not permitted.

Special attention will be paid to the integration of younger generations of researchers and to their academic networking, as well as to European and/or international research cooperation.

Composition of the panels:
• Each panel will consist of three speakers.
• Commentators may either be suggested by the submitters themselves or chosen from a list provided by the organisation committee. Chairs are nominated by the organisation committee.
• A maximum of two researchers per panel belonging to one and the same institution is acceptable.
• Submissions characterized by sensitivity to gender issues both as regards to contents and personnel are especially welcome.

Structure of the panels:
Presentation of papers: 20 minutes per paper. Commentary: 10 minutes. Final discussion: 20 minutes..
Conference languages: German and English. Each panel will be conducted in either German or English.

How to submit:
• Submissions must be made electronically to by 15 January 2010.
• Submission must include an 800 word abstract for each paper. In addition to this, panel submissions must include a 400 word description of the panel topic.
• Panel submissions must be related to one track only. (Panels are not admissible for Open Space).
• Individual submissions must either be related to one track or to Open Space.

Acceptance of panels and individual submissions will be decided by the review committees appointed for each track according to a standardized point-awarding system. There are bonus points for submissions made by junior researchers and by scholars working outside Austria. In the case of panel submissions, care is to be taken to ensure a balanced composition with regard to gender and age. Abstracts will be judged according to the quality and the methodology of the papers and the degree of innovation of the topic. In the panels at least one paper should deal with a herstory or gender issue. Special attention will be paid to thematic coherence and to the interdisciplinarity of approach and methodology of the submitted panels. Female presenters will be preferred in cases of equal qualification.

C) Travel Bursaries

Travel bursaries will be made available courtesy of additional sponsors, to enable colleagues from abroad for whom participation would involve prohibitive expenses to take part.

D) Contact

For more information contact

Institut für Zeitgeschichte der Universität Wien
z.Hd. Linda Erker und Mag. Alexander Salzmann
Spitalgasse 2-4, Hof 1
1090 Wien