Call for papers for the 51st Annual Conference of the IALHI “Youth movements as political and social actors in past and present”

Call for papers, deadline 20 June 2021


Swiss Social Archives, Zurich, Switzerland

September 8-11, 2021

Youth movements as political and social actors in past and present


Call for papers

It’s for nearly three years now that the transnational youth movement ‘Fridays for Future’ has played a prominent role in international politics and mobilised millions of young people. In previous decades, youth movements and youth activists in broader social movements have often spearheaded social and political change as well. In addition to student movements around 1968, youth participation has, for example, been notable in the peace, disarmament and environmental movements of the 70s and 80s or the anti-globalization, anti-war and anti-austerity movements around the millennium. Further back, youth activism played an important role in shaping the labour movements and other political forces in the early 20th century, whereas independent youth movements tried to create spheres of autonomous sociability. Hence, it is not by chance that many IALHI members hold remarkable collections of youth movements and their activities.

With Zurich commemorating the 40th anniversary of the movement for an autonomous youth centre that profoundly transformed the city’s cultural make-up, this year’s IALHI conference is dedicated to the role of youth movements and youth activism in broader social movements in past and present. For the programme of Friday, 10 September, we invite presentations about research on past and current youth movements, about collections on and commemorations of historical youth movements as well as about ways of documenting current youth movements’ activities. As the latter tend to be organised quite differently from more traditional social movements, their documentation raises fundamental conceptual, methodological and technological questions: Who decides about their documentation, what is preserved (e.g. regarding social media activities), how and by whom? What types of sources are current and future researchers looking for? Papers may address key areas of youth mobilisation and youth movements’ patterns of organisation, but also consequences of youth movements’ specificities for archivists and researchers.

On Thursday, 9 September, there will be opportunity for IALHI members to give short presentations (5-10 min.) on their current projects and activities and to discuss actual trends and challenges of digitisation at several workshops.

Proposals (500 words) for topical and project presentations, along with a brief professional profile (150 words), must be submitted by 20 June, 2021 to Likewise, we welcome suggestions for workshop topics.

Conference participation is without a fee, however travel and accommodation costs are at your expense. As Zurich is a central hub of the European railway system, we suggest to participants from neighbouring countries to travel climate-friendly by train rather than plane. Information on hotels, public transports, restaurants and current Covid regulations can be found on the website of Zürich Tourismus ( Depending on the pandemic situation, the conference will be held in a hybrid way. Participants that are unable to travel to Switzerland will have the opportunity to join remotely and present papers online.

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