History and Theory of Compromises

Stefan Zeppenfeld Announcement
Subject Fields
World History / Studies, Area Studies, Political History / Studies, Research and Methodology, Political Science

Dear H-Net community,

the joint research project "Cultures of Compromise" is happy to announce a Call for Papers for an International Conference in Essen (Germany), taking place June 21-23, 2023.

Compromises are ubiquitous - but have only received scant attention in academic research. The interdisciplinary joint research project "Cultures of Compromise" of the University of Duisburg-Essen (UDE), the University of Münster (WWU) and the University of Bochum (RUB) addresses this research gap. The network is particularly interested in the societal, political, and cultural preconditions and frameworks under which compromises are reached.

The international conference "History and Theory of Compromises" approaches the phenomenon of compromise from a theoretical and historical perspective. The conference sees compromise as an essential cultural technique for regulating erupting, but also threatening and smoldering conflicts. Compromise is about agreements in which the conflicting parties hold on to their original claims, nonetheless. Therefore, compromises demand considerable concessions from them. Through these often-painful concessions, compromises are able to overcome what is seen as a problematic state of conflict.

While disciplines such as political science have already dealt more intensively with compromise, in fields such as history, the concept of compromise offers an innovative approach to existing research subjects. The international conference brings theoretical research and diachronic and cross-cultural comparative approaches into conversation and thus creates a venue for interdisciplinary exchange.

On a theoretical level, compromise should be conceptualized as a technique of conflict regulation. Research guiding questions and topics of papers may be:

  • What are the preconditions of compromise? What types and varieties can be found?
  • What factors and frameworks determine its effectiveness?
  • Which aspects determine whether a compromise is perceived as successful, necessary, problematic, or 'rotten'?
  • What is the relationship between compromise and other forms of conflict regulation (consensus, deal)? What specificity do solutions brought on by compromise show (in their preconditions)?

Particularly welcome are contributions critically reviewing the state of research and the methodological and theoretical assumptions of various relevant disciplines such as political science, sociology, communication science, and philosophy, as well as interdisciplinary comparisons.

Empirical case studies are considered in diachronic and cross-cultural comparisons and focus particularly on historical perspectives. Corresponding questions may be:

  • How do the status and role of compromise differ across time, region, or culture?
  • What variances do types and modes of compromise show?
  • How are compromises framed and communicated to the public, and how are they perceived?
  • What influence do narratives have on the negotiations that lead up to compromise and for the validity of the outcomes?

Comparative approaches that show how compromise has played and continues to play a constitutive role in different social fields in the past and present are particularly welcome. This includes not only politics and diplomacy, but also law, science, religion, art and literature, and everyday life. The conference will not only focus on the past and present of Europe, but will welcome contributions from other regional and cultural contexts.


The keynotes of the conference will be given by Alin Fumurescu (University of Houston, confirmed) and Elizabeth Anthony (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, final confirmation pending).


Please send an abstract of your proposed paper (maximum 300 words) and a short CV to kompromisskulturen@gmail.com by February 15, 2023. After reviewing all submissions, invitations will be sent out by February 28, 2023.

Applications from early career scholars are especially welcome. Travel and accommodation costs for invited participants will be covered.

For more information on the interdisciplinary joint research project "Cultures of Compromise", please visit http://www.kompromisskulturen.de.

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