Crisis and its temporalities: 2nd European University Institute Graduate Conference in Intellectual History

A call for papers has been issued for the EUI’s second annual graduate conference in intellectual history due to take place 19-20 May 2021, via Zoom. Find out more here…

Call for papers

19-20 May 2021, European University Institute, Florence, via Zoom

Keynote: TBC

“Europe is now in a state of change and in a crisis such as has not been known since Charlemagne”. This is not a quote from an EU politician negotiating a treaty, but from Leibniz’s comments on the Nordic War of 1712. Reinhard Koselleck points out in his essay on crisis that it is through Leibniz the concept has entered the area of philosophy of history, hence opening the category, until then mostly used in medicine and jurisprudence, to different interpretations and definitions. Crisis is, therefore, both a metaphor and a discipline-bound category with a specific meaning.  

The medical concept of crisis, as Koselleck discussed in his essay, was that of a tipping point at which the patient would either recover or worsen. This conception of crisis, then, contains both a temporal aspect and a call for discerning, decisive judgement. Is it the case that a sense of crisis calls out for historians to act as doctors, diagnosing the ills of our world? How does this sense of crisis change the way we think about the times we live in, the past that shaped them, and the future to come? What understanding of “normal times” is it that the crisis interrupts? 

Today, surrounded by a widespread use of this term in a variety of contexts, when we hear much about the pandemic about economic, public and health crises, we propose a step back in order to take a look at the possible meanings of the term at its temporalities. How does its contemporary use help or hinder our understanding of historical events? How is our conception of time and history shaped by and in exceptional times? Does history have a special role to play when the old order seems to have reached a point of crisis? How does history serve as a tool or a metaphor to investigate pre-crisis pasts and post-crisis futures?

Themes may include, but are by no means limited to, the following:

  • The history of the concept of crisis
  • Different temporal experiences: compression and extension of time in times of rupture
  • Crisis as a category in political thought and historical analysis
  • Contemporary and future crises: climate and liberal democracy
  • Modernity, or: temporality as crisis 
  • “Historiographies of the present”: How did different historians or actors describe contemporary times of crisis?
  • The past re-evaluated, in flux: destruction and re-contextualization of material and non-material monuments in the process of rewriting history
  • Genders and sexualities: vulnerabilities and empowerments in times of disruption
  • Spatiality: distortions of space: how do crises influence conceptions of space
  • Methodological discussions: crisis of (intellectual) history and historical thinking

To submit a paper or propose a panel, please e-mail a short bio along with a titled abstract or panel proposal to our conference email address: Abstracts should not exceed 300 words for papers of 20 minutes of length. Panel proposals should not exceed 900 words. The call for abstract submissions will close on 26th February 2021 and successful applicants will be notified by 9th March. Please note that applicants must be doctoral researchers and must not have defended their thesis by the dates of the conference. 

Organising committee: Ela Bozok, Olga Byrska, Vigdis Andrea Baugstø Evang, Muireann McCann and Elisavet Papalexopoulo.

For any further queries, please contact us at