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  • 25th International Conference 2024

    Photo: Frederik Schröer

The 25th International Conference on the History of Concepts

Political Ideologies: Tracing the History of Concepts and Languages in a Global Context

December 5th-7th 2024, Rio de Janeiro

The 25th International Conference of the History of Concepts Group (HCG) is scheduled to take place in the city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It will be hosted by the Rui Barbosa Foundation and the Institute of Social and Political Studies at the State University of Rio de Janeiro (IESP-UERJ).

The conference is open to students and scholars from various fields engaged in a dialogue with conceptual history seeking to expand transdisciplinary and comparative dimensions in their investigations. The main theme for this year's conference is ideologies, with a particular emphasis on the historical construction of the concepts structuring political ideologies.

Conceptual historians have consistently highlighted the contested nature of political concepts and their ability to produce antagonisms and reconstruct meanings from these conflicts. Additionally, emphasis has been placed on their capacity to prescribe and guide political action, shaping the fate of institutions within a society undergoing transformation. The necessity for conceptual work in the present circumstances is clear, as it encourages a more complex historical reflection on the meaning of concepts that structure contemporary political vocabularies — i.e. populisms, far-right politics, nationalisms, fascisms, neo-liberalisms, among others. There is a widespread feeling that ideologies from the first half of the 20th century are reemerging in the political languages of the first half of the 21st century. Conceptual reflection can play a fundamental role in this regard by contributing to our understanding of these continuities and historical differences. 

The proper understanding of ideologies, however, cannot be limited to the analysis of present uses of concepts. The construction of the meanings of concepts that have shaped our historical experience must also be investigated. Therefore, we are seeking submissions that not only reflect on concepts produced during modernity but also have the capacity to incorporate the history of concepts from earlier periods into the discussion.

In a context where the social sciences emphasize the need to broaden their comparative nature, this year's conference encourages scholars to explore agendas that delve into transnational research. It suggests expanding horizons to consider new possibilities for comparisons on an increasing scale: one capable of revealing relationships of circulation, reception, transfer and change in the meanings of concepts not immediately evident in established historical knowledge. Additionally, it calls attention to continuities and discontinuities in the conceptual construction of differences and boundaries between fundamental concepts that attribute identity to groups and nations and their consequences in structuring frontiers and inequalities. 

This conference will commemorate the 20th anniversary of the 7th HCG conference in Rio de Janeiro, marking a significant expansion in the study of the history of concepts in Latin America. This continent has been a privileged laboratory of political Modernity for contemplating the tensions and connections between ideas that are projected as universal and local experiences. For this purpose, concepts such as "progress", "civilization", "barbarismo,", "modernity," "development", and "underdevelopment", guided representations of the continent's history and its present. In the twentieth century, Latin America witnessed the emergence of new perspectives, including dependency theories and the philosophy of liberation, that sought to rethink these tensions and identify the specificities of its historical experience.

The conference is also interested in works that engage with new and emerging agendas in intellectual and conceptual history, such as discussions on emotions and politics, the history of concepts and metaphors, and the history of concepts in relation to the history of science and technology, among others. It has also become increasingly urgent to address social and political problems that are inherently global in nature, as reflected in discussions about concepts such as "anthropocene", "climate" or "ecological crisis".

In this sense, the conference welcomes contributions that engage with the history of concepts in general, particularly those aligned with the following themes:

  • History of concepts, languages, and intellectual history
  • Contemporary politics, ideologies, and their political concepts
  • Temporalities, chronopolitics, and the politicization of time
  • Metaphors, emotions, and ideologies
  • History of science, technologies, and ecology
  • Social Theory, concepts, and ideologies
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