CfP: Doing The Global Intellectual History Of Social Movements

Call for papers, deadline 28 May 2021

In the last decades, intellectual history has aimed to move away from its traditional focus on famous intellectuals as its main actors. The emergence of a "global" intellectual history further troubled the idea that (normatively white and male) professional intellectuals were the only people with ideas worth taking seriously. The global social movements of the 20th century –– labor movements, Communisms, movements for racial and gender justice, movements for sexual liberation, and conservative and reactionary movements organizing to preserve the status quo –– all of had evolving relationships with ideas and with the figure of "the intellectual" that belie any concept of ideas flowing from a professional intellectual outward into the fields of the social and the political. How can we research and write truly global intellectual histories of social movements?

We are pleased to invite you, with the support of the Global Intellectual History Graduate School in Berlin, to a workshop discussing the methodological, conceptual, and practical problems when dealing with the intellectual history of social movements from a global perspective. We are pleased to welcome as our keynote speaker Dr. Tiffany N. Florvil, Associate Professor of 20th-century European Women’s and Gender History at the University of New Mexico where she writes about Black intellectualism, internationalism, and gender. She is the author of Mobilizing Black Germany: Afro-German Women and the Making of a Transnational Movement (2020).

We invite papers of twenty minutes (3,000 words) which touch on, expand, or critique the premises of the following questions:

- How do we link quotidian intellectuals and “small” intellectual history to the broader history of ideas?

- How does the social history of intellectuals connect to global intellectual history as a field?

- What kinds of sources and archives are useful and how do we read them? How do we deal with activist writers whose ideas shift over time and are often written in unclear, fragmented, broken, or partial ways (as opposed to professional idea-havers whose ideas are often published in books with clear reception histories)?

- What is an intellectual and how do we think the intellectual more broadly – or should we avoid the category? How has "intellectual history's" vision of "the intellectual" been marked by race, class, and gender; and do global approaches undo or reinforce this?

- How do we complicate the diffusionist idea of ideas flowing from the top down and understand how theory and intellectual practice – even, or especially, in imperfectly or incorrectly translated or understood forms – evolve across related social movements?

We want to make this workshop a place for an engaged discussion around shared questions and not a simple succession of presentations. Therefore, we will ask all presenters to attend all sessions of the workshop. We aim to create a safe, supportive, and collaborative environment in which to discuss work in progress: we would rather participants come with open questions than simply present finished work.

We invite graduate students, researchers, and independent scholars to submit an abstract of 300 words and a short CV by 28 May 2021 to Christian Jacobs ( Most likely, the conference will take place as an online event 19 – 21 August. However, in the unlikely case, the pandemic situation and travel restrictions allow we will consider hybrid or in person formats. Notices of acceptance will be sent by mid-June 2021. Participants will be asked to send their papers for precirculation two weeks before the conference.


Keynote lecture: Tiffany N. Florvil (University of New Mexico)