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September 28-29, 2023, Cambridge, UK
In recent years, scholars across various subfields have revitalized the practice of social history. This workshop will bring together leading practitioners to ask where the field is headed. It will explore the emergence of social history, at the crossroads of several disciplines. First, we wish to reflect on the practices of interdisciplinarity research within a comparative, international, and transgenerational framework. By bringing into dialogue senior and early-career researchers from different countries, we aim to identify the effects of national frameworks on our practices. Bringing together historians from different countries also makes it possible to compare the intellectual geographies in which social history has been embedded. Second, we want to highlight the current relationship between history and other social sciences. Without falling into a naive or empty vision of interdisciplinarity, we would like to reflect on how historians today adopt methodological proposals or analytical frameworks from sociology, anthropology, ethnography, political science, and economics, as well as from law and literature. While some historians, such as William Sewell, have sought to define the theoretical connections between history and the social sciences, this workshop will centre the historians’ methods and praxis: from their choice of an analytical framework to their writing techniques, including the concrete work on sources and the implementation of their methodology. One of the workshop’s key assumptions is the notion that the “tricks of the trade” (Howard S. Becker) will enable its participants to think collectively about the past and current challenges faced by social history.