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30.01.2021 15:01 Alter: 3 yrs

Decolonising Archives, Rethinking Canons

Call for Papers

Theme: Decolonising Archives, Rethinking Canons
Subtitle: Writing Intellectual Histories of Global Entanglements
Type: International Workshop
Institution: Faculty of History, University of Cambridge
Location: Online
Date: 26.–27.3.2021
Deadline: 5.2.2021

Intellectual history and political thought in recent times has taken
a ‘global’ turn, in an attempt to move beyond the dominance of
‘nation’ and ‘modern’ in historical analysis. The most significant
intellectual contribution of these works have been to question the
‘globality’ of intellectual history traditions, and in turn urge
scholars to introduce spaces beyond the Anglophone world, within the
realm of intellectual history, as fertile grounds of ideations. This
has also brought to light the need to nuance several methodological
tendencies in the historiography of intellectual history, which we
intend to provide a platform for, in this conference.

These new interventions in the field of intellectual history has
unveiled questions on the role of linguistic geo-politics in the
writing of intellectual history. How can we write intellectual
histories and histories of political thought from non-Anglophone life
worlds? In what ways can we reimagine the ‘archive’ in an attempt to
decolonise the discipline of intellectual history? Do we rely
entirely on English sources for larger intelligibility, or should we
attempt to rewrite the vocabularies of intellectual history writing
using vernacular registers? What role would canonical ideas play in
these vernacular intellectual histories? How do we prevent
intellectual history from becoming an exclusively elite exercise and
incorporate the voices and presence of actors from the margins of

Our larger aim in this conference is hinged on two primary concerns.
One is of bringing to the fore works in intellectual history and
political thought, framed by both context specificity and vernacular
sources. The second important goal is to question the equivocal
process of canonization and bring together scholars working on
non-canonical intellectual traditions, texts, and figures. Therefore,
we welcome submissions which will question the ways in which the
postcolonial afterlives of the empire, have shaped practices of
intellectual history writing.

We welcome abstracts for individual presentation of not more than 350
words and panel proposals of not more than 1200 words, which may
focus on the following themes, but not limited to:

- Resituating and decolonising the archive in the intellectual
 histories of the non-Anglophone world: textual, ethnographic, and
 oral histories?
- Juxtaposing political thought with political action in the writing
 of intellectual histories
- Ideas and historical actors in context: Positionality informing
 choice of sources and canon formation?
- Deconstructing the vernacular: Politics of language, translation,
 and linguistic communities
- Rethinking the region, redefining the ‘global’ — debating categories
 like trans-national, trans-cultural, global, colonial, and global
- Trans-temporality as a method for intellectual histories of
 ‘modernity’ and ‘Empire’
- Reincorporating contested borders and contact zones as fertile
 grounds of intellection
- Intersectional histories of identity and the politics of history
 writing: class, caste, race, ethnicity, and gender
- Reconceptualising analytical categories in historiography:
 political, social, economic, and cultural

Submissions should be sent to no later
than the 5th of February, 2021.

The two-day conference will be hosted online, tentatively on the
26-27 March, 2021, between 9-6 PM GMT. We would like to thank the
School of Humanities and Social Sciences, and the Faculty of History,
University of Cambridge, for its generous support of this venture.

For queries, feel free to write to Shuvatri Dasgupta
( or Rohit Dutta Roy (, Faculty of
History, University of Cambridge.


Workshop Committee
Decolonising Archives, Rethinking Canons