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Periodization is the division of history and/or time into chronological segments. But far from being neutral or merely technical classifications, historical periodizations are driven by political, economic, and intellectual agendas in the present day: they tell us as much about the periodiser as the periodised. As Jacques Le Goff put it, ‘Dividing history into periods is never … a neutral or innocent act’.
Interrogating the ways in which past societies have segmented history can help us to reveal many of the political and intellectual norms and assumptions that these societies held. To be sure, historians have long been aware of the constructed character of the periodizations they employ. But it is only relatively recently that they have begun to comprehensively investigate the history of periodization itself (see for example Le Goff, Lynn Hunt, Reinhart Koselleck, Chris Lorenz and Kathleen Davis). And with the emergence of the so-called temporal turn, historians now have at their disposal a sophisticated theoretical and conceptual toolkit with which to explore the history of periodization. Recognizing that this strand of research is very much still in its infancy, the ‘Periodization in History’ workshop is designed to bring together the various strands of research that historians working in very different geographical and chronological specialisms have developed on the theme of periodization in recent years. Above all, it aims to chart a way forward for the study of periodization as a matter of pressing scholarly importance.
The workshop will take place at Pembroke College, University of Cambridge. It aims to bring together scholars from a range of disciplines, geographical specialisms and historical periods to identify and discuss general themes and problems in the study of periodization. Possible themes include ‘Germany and European Periodization’, ‘Periodization and Colonialism’, ‘Between Global Time and European Time’, ‘Gender and Periodization’, ‘Space and Periodization’, ‘"Turning Points" in History’, and ‘Beyond Periodization?’
Ultimately, the ‘Time and Periodization’ workshop seeks to connect established researchers and early-stage researchers with different mainly (but not only) historical specializations. The workshop is not limited by any ‘periodical boundaries’ but rather wishes to open the discussion to multiple points of view.
A keynote address on ‘The History of the Present’ will be delivered by Martin Conway (University of Oxford).
To apply, please send an abstract of up to 300 words to email@example.com.
The deadline for applications is 8 January, 2023.
Oded Steinberg (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem), Anna Gutgarts (University of Haifa), Marcus Colla (University of Cambridge)