Call for Papers

The deadline has now passed for applications to GRACEH 2014. Many thanks to everyone who applied, we will be in touch by mid-February regarding the results.

The State in European History: Ideas, Norms and Practices from Early Modern Times to the Present

The 8th Annual Graduate Conference in European History (GRACEH), European University Institute (EUI, Florence), 8-10 May 2014

During their long history, “the world’s largest and most powerful organizations,” in Charles Tilly’s words, have had a paramount role in shaping society. Since the early modern period, the sovereignty of the European state has expanded to cover almost all aspects of human existence: from raising taxes and armies, to recording and regulating births, deaths and marriages; making laws, establishing courts and defining crimes and their punishment; managing the economy (free market or centrally planned); establishing official languages and promoting the development of identities; determining school programmes and the place of religion in society; and providing infrastructure and transport.

The prevalent state system in Europe started to take shape around AD 1000, although it was only during the early modern period that strong, centralised governments supported by state bureaucracies were shaped. Even so, we cannot speak of a single model of the European state and development was not uniform. Since the early modern period, different state systems have (co)existed in Europe: from the city-states, principalities, kingdoms of the medieval and early modern period to the rise of the multi-ethnic and multi-religious nation-states, colonial empires and imperialism in the nineteenth century, and the competing models of liberal capitalist democracies and state socialism of the twentieth century.

Historically, the European state has resorted to coercion and control to regulate and homogenise the population but it has also been the foundation and guarantor of human and civil rights and the provider of vital services such as education and health care. The state is, therefore, one of the most significant historical and social actors and has been studied by numerous disciplines and from diverse perspectives. This conference will explore historiographical approaches to the European state, as well as the impact of the state and the norms and practices it promotes in the various areas studied by historians.

The 8th annual GRACEH’s aim is to bring together postgraduate students and early career researchers to discuss these different aspects of the state and its role in history, and to establish a dialogue between historians and scholars from related disciplines of early modern, modern and contemporary Europe.

We encourage applications on topics including (but not limited to) the following areas:

  • Envisioning the state in intellectual and cultural spheres from Machiavelli and Bodin to the present
  • The sovereign and the subject: development of the concept of citizens and their rights
  • The state and the nation
  • Contested visions of statehood in Europe since the early modern period
  • Between feudalism, mercantilism, laissez-faire, and state socialism: the state and management of economic relations
  • The development of and challenges to public welfare in Europe
  • The coercive state: violence and biopolitics; criminalising thoughts and activities, penal control, capital punishment, population control, eugenics
  • The state and private life: state regulation of gender, sexuality, marriage, religion, community
  • State regulations of culture and social life
  • Violent and non-violent resistance to the state
  • The state in war and peace
  • The effect of colonialism on rethinking and reshaping the state in Europe and the World
  • The European state and supranational bodies (e.g. European Union, United Nations)

Paper abstracts of up to 400 words and a brief biography with full contact details (email, telephone, postal address) should be sent to graceh2014[at]eui.eu by 13 January 2014. Full papers should be submitted by 8 April 2014 so they can be pre-circulated to commentators in a timely fashion. Conference presentations should not exceed 15 minutes in order to ensure discussion time for all papers. The working language of the conference is English.

Accommodation for all participants is covered by the organisers. Limited number of travel grants will also be available.

Confirmed keynote speakers:

The CfP can also be downloaded as a pdf file from here.