HistoryLab Conference on Agency – call for papers

AGENCY: History Lab Annual Conference 2012

13-14 June 2012: Institute of Historical Research, London

Who makes history? What is the role of the individual, and how much influence can they have? While historians have long debated the meaning and implication of agency, events such as the Arab Spring, in which traditional structures are overturned by collective and individual action, gives the notion of agency fresh urgency.

The study of agency, traditionally understood as the ability of the individual to act independently of political, social and cultural structures, has been dominated by social scientists such as Simmel, Elias, Bourdieu, and more recently, Anthony Giddens. With this in mind, the aim of the History Lab Conference 2012 is to investigate the relationships between agents and structures through the analysis of historical example.

History Lab would like to bring together postgraduate students and early-career researchers to explore the significance of agency. Potential speakers are invited to submit proposals for papers, or panels of three speakers, on specific topics exploring agency or on wider  methodological and philosophical issues.

Papers may cover any historical region or period, exploring agency in topics including, but not limited to, the following areas.

  • Religious lives
  • Popular politics, protest and resistance.
  • Crown and estates.
  • Court culture.
  • Administration and bureaucracy.
  • Industry and urbanisation.
  • Rural lives.
  • The family.
  • Social mobility.
  • Cultural production.
  • Labour, business and industrial relations.
  • Policing, surveillance and the law.

The Conference will open with a plenary panel on Agency and history. Professor David d’Avray FBA and Professor Catherine Hall of UCL, and Professor Christian List of the LSE will each give a short paper, followed by a round-table discussion.

Some travel bursaries will be available for research students travelling from the United States. Please email historylab2012@gmail.com  for further details.

To submit a proposal for the conference, please send your title along with a 250-word abstract, your institutional affiliation, and full contact details to:

historylab2012@gmail.com by the deadline of Monday, 27th February, 2012.

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