All posts by Joseph Satish

CFP: European Architectural History Network (Tallinn, Estonia, June 2018)

Researchers working at the intersections of global history and architectural history may like to participate in the fifth European Architectural History Network International Meeting to be held in Tallinn, Estonia during June 2018 by the European Architectural History Network. Please find the detailed call for session and paper proposals for the various sessions below:

Abstracts are invited for the fifth European Architectural History Network International Meeting, in Tallinn, June 2018. Please submit your abstract by 30 September 2017 to one of the sessions and round tables listed below. Abstracts of no more than 300 words should be submitted straight to the session convenor(s). Include your name, affiliation, title of paper or position, a C.V. of no more than five pages, home and work addresses, e-mail addresses and telephone numbers.

Sessions will consist of either five papers or of four papers and a respondent with time for questions and dialogue at the end. Each paper should take no more than 20 minutes to present. Abstracts for session presentations should define the subject and summarize the argument to be made in the presented paper. The content of that paper should be the product of well-documented original research that is primarily analytical and interpretive rather than descriptive.

Round tables will have no more than six participants plus chairs and an extended time for dialogue, debate and discussion among participants and their public. Each discussant will have 10 minutes to present a position. Abstracts for round tables should summarize the position to be taken.

Papers may not have been previously published, nor presented in public. Only one submission per author will be accepted. All abstracts will be held in confidence during the selection process.

Session and roundtable chairs will notify all persons submitting abstracts of the acceptance or rejection of their proposals and comment upon accepted ones no later than 31 October 2017. Authors of accepted paper proposals must submit the complete text of their papers to their chairs by 15 February 2018. Chairs may suggest editorial revisions to a paper or position in order to make it satisfy session or round table guidelines and will return it with comments to the speaker by 15 March 2018. Chairs reserve the right to withhold a paper or discussion position from the program if the speaker has refused to comply with these guidelines. It is the responsibility of the chair(s) to inform speakers of these guidelines, as well as of the general expectations for both a session and participation in this meeting. Each speaker is expected to fund his or her own registration, travel and expenses to Tallinn, Estonia.

Additional Guidelines for Paper Sessions:

No paper may have more than two authors. Final presented papers should be no more than 2500 words, although texts of up to 4000 words, including notes, may be included in the proceedings (submission to the proceedings is optional).

Additional Guidelines for Roundtables:

Initial position statements should be no more than 1250 words. Position statements of up to 2500 words including notes will be accepted for the proceedings (submission to the proceedings is optional).


Submissions of paper proposals and roundtable discussions to session chairs: 30 September 2017

Communication by session chairs of acceptance or rejection and comments on accepted abstracts: 31 October 2017

Submission of Final Edited Abstracts to Session and Conference Chairs: 30 November 2017

Submission of Complete Draft of Paper or Position Statement to Session Chairs: 15 February 2018

Comments on Papers and Position Statements to be Returned by Session Chairs: 15 March 2018

Submission of Final Paper or Position Statement to Chair and, if to be included in Conference Proceeding, to Conference Chair: 1 April 2018

Those interested may visit the conference website for further details here:

CFP: Revising the Geography of Modern World Histories (University of York, 9-10 February 2018)

Readers of the Global History blog may consider participating in ” a forum to discuss the challenges and possibilities of writing multi-sited modern histories that encompass fully situated lives and local contexts”. Please find below the call for proposals from the organizers of Revising the Geography of Modern World Histories to be held in York, UK, from 9 to 10 February, 2018.

The British Academy and the Department of History at the University of York invite submissions from early career researchers (ECRs) for a two-day workshop and public conference, “Revising the Geography of Modern World Histories,” to be held in York, UK, from 9 to 10 February, 2018.

This international event responds to the recent boom in “global” history, providing a forum to discuss the challenges and possibilities of writing multi-sited modern histories that encompass fully situated lives and local contexts.

ECRs working on themes or in fields including but not limited to the below—as they relate to transnational or transregional history from the late 18th century to the present—are particularly encouraged to submit abstracts (maximum 250 words):

International political economy

History of empire

Political history

Social / labor history

Cultural history

Gender history

Environmental history

Critical geography

Historical sociology

The event organizers wish to draw ECRs who are stretching the boundaries of their national or disciplinary specializations. Proceedings will include small-group workshops to discuss shared challenges and strategies of conducting geographically heterodox historical scholarship, public presentations of works in progress, keynote lectures, and a plenary discussion with public Q&A.  

Current keynote speakers and plenary participants include:

Manu Goswami (New York University)

Andrew Zimmerman (George Washington University)

Lara Putnam (The University of Pittsburgh)

Paul A. Kramer (Vanderbilt University)

Applicants must include, along with their abstract, a list of five works currently most relevant to their research. These titles will be assembled into an actively managed, open-access bibliography on the conference website (URL below). All abstracts are due by 1 September 2017. Please send them in pdf or MS Word format to:

Generous funding from the British Academy, YuFund, and the York Centre for the Americas will allow the hosts to defray a significant portion of participant travel and accommodation expenses.

This conference is a collaboration between scholars at the Universities of Nottingham, Sheffield, and York in the UK, and Fordham, Harvard, the New School for Social Research, Northwestern, and Ohio State in the US.

Please address abstracts and questions to the event organizer, David Huyssen, at:

Call for Publication: “Africa and the World: The Continent in Global History”

Scholars who are working on the history of the African continent from a global history perspective may like to explore this opportunity to contribute to a new book project edited by Saheed Aderinto. You may see the call for submissions below:

Contributors are invited for a new book project titled, “Africa and the World: The Continent in Global History” (3 volumes), commissioned by ABC-CLIO, a major US publisher of reference academic books. Editor, Saheed Aderinto. This three-volume book would have around 900,000 words and 500 alphabetically arranged entries of 1000 to 2500 words each. Topics to be covered include but not limited to the slave trade, exploration, colonization, African contributions to world civilization, global science, art, and culture, and other subjects on Africa’s relationship with the rest of the world. If you are interested in contributing to this project, send your CV to Saheed Aderinto ( Sample entries include:

African art in global history and culture
Colonization, European
Diamond Trade
Diseases from Africa
Exploration of Africa
Foods from Africa
Inventions from Africa
Islam, African Influences on
Ivory Trade
Literature, African Influences on
Medicines from Africa
Music, African Influences on
Myths from Africa
Plants from Africa
Religions from Africa
Slave Trade

Interested readers may send an expression of interest along with your CV to the editor at

CFP: 1914-1918-online. International Encyclopedia of the First World War

Scholars working on the global history of the First World War may like to contribute to this collaborative effort for an online encyclopedia. The original call for papers is given below:

1914-1918-online. International Encyclopedia of the First World War is an English-language online reference work on World War I dedicated to publishing high quality peer-reviewed content. Each article in the encyclopedia is a self-contained publication and its author receives full recognition. All articles receive a distinct URL address as well as a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) and are fully citable as scholarly publications. 1914-1918-online is an open access publication, which means that all articles are freely available online, ensuring maximum worldwide dissemination of content.

The editors invite academics to contribute articles on a select number of topics not yet covered by our invitation-only editorial process. Authors who are interested in submitting a paper on any of the subjects listed should submit a short CV with a publication list, as well as an abstract (max. 250 words) or a full-length paper.

You may contact the editors at 1914-1918-online[at] and find further information about this call for papers and a list of open articles at

CFP: Women and World War I (Slovenia and Italy, November 2017)

Readers of the global history blog working at the intersection of gender studies and world history may like to explore this international conference to be held in Ljubljana, Slovenia and Gorizia, Italy in November 2017. Please find below the original call for papers from the organizers:

Women and World War I

The Department of History at the Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana (address: Aškerčeva 2, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia) and Museo della Grande Guerra/Museo della Moda e delle Arti Applicate in Gorizia (Borgo Castello 13, 34170 Gorizia, Italy) invite you to the international conference Women and World War I, which will take place in Ljubljana and Gorizia on 16-17 November 2017. The conference will be held in English and in Italian.

The first international studies exploring the role of women in the Great War built on the premise that the world-wide conflict changed the gender order and contributed to women’s emancipation. The following decades saw the publication of works that requestioned and relativized this premise, and some of them even denied it (Darrow, 2000). The most recent studies avoid the generalization in terms of positive or negative effects of the war, where women are regarded as a monolithic social category, and consider the diverse and at times also contradictory consequences of the war. They focus on different experiences of individual women, on the formation of different identities, on multifaceted responses, and the emotional culture during wartime (Doan, 2006; Thébaud, 2007; Cole, 2003). They discuss the activities of different social and occupational groups that were dominated by women during the war, e.g. factory workers and nurses (Hallet, 2009). They provide the necessary comparative insights and highlight the attitude of respective segments of the female population towards, for instance, patriotism and citizenship (Grayzel, 2002). In doing so, they draw attention to multifaceted stances, particularly in multi-ethnic state formations (Austria-Hungary), where the national identity did not necessarily overlap with the state identity (Healy, 2004). Other studies parallel and compare public representations with personal testimonies by women with (auto)biographical sources and place themselves to the history of emotions (Cole, 2003). Researches discussing the “female experience” of the war through literature and art (Siebrecht, 2013), and historiographical analyses depicting women in the role of criminals, offenders, protesters, spies (Darrow, 2000; Proctor, 2010; Healy, 2004), but also in the role of victims, for instance, enduring wartime famine, bomb attacks, rapes (Healy, 2004; Grayzel, 2012), and refugeeism (Verginella, 2013; Healy, 2004; Grayzel, 2012) have been mounting up. Parallel to adding new content, we also see an increase in historiographical works on the position of women during the Great War in different national environments (Dittrich, 1994), along with general syntheses, and international comparisons (Sharp, Fell 2007; Grayzel, 2002; Storey, Housego, 2010; Hämmerle et al., 2014).

The discussion of women’s position during World War I in the territory of modern-day Slovenia and its neighbouring regions, particularly in Italy and Austria, has remained a marginal topic. The embeddedness of this subject matter into a more comprehensive study and a general review of the period of World War I are yet to be explored to a sufficient degree. The international contextualization and the comparative aspect remain poorly dealt with as well; the latter will be promoted by the symposium following the conclusion of the project Women and World War I, which was financed by the Slovenian Research Agency and whose results will be presented at the symposium. We invite researches, who focus on the topics stated below and who pay particular attention to the transnational approach and explore the aforementioned subject matters in the territory of the former Austrian-Italian firing line.

The contributions should fall into the following thematic sets:

1. Women in the labour market during World War I

2. Women in the front as nurses or serving as auxiliary military forces

3. Familial relations during World War I

4. Women’s movement and World War I (women and resistance, dissatisfaction with provision, pacifism, demonstrations within the labour movement, criminality)

5. Culture, fashion, and women

6. Women refugees, consequences of the war and women

Those interested in participating in this conference should  submit their abstracts, along with a brief CV, no later than 15 July 2017 to Abstracts should be written in English and should not exceed 200 words.

CFP: Geographies of World History (Graduate Conference, University of Cambridge)

Scholars working on the margins of world history and geography will be interested in participating in this conference sponsored by the Royal Historical Society at the University of Cambridge. The event is organized by the convenors of the Cambridge World History Workshop: James Wilson, Stephanie Mawson, Lachlan Fleetwood, Louise Moschetta, Eva Schalbroeck, and Chris Wilson.

Please find below the original call for papers:

Geographies, both real and imaginary, play central roles in world history. Attention to landscape, place, and space has long been essential in telling global stories. Within this framework, geographical features, including oceans, islands, rivers, mountains and cities are increasingly being used as productive lenses for analysing connections and disconnections across and within empires and states. These framings have also been used to successfully disrupt older nationalist and regional organisations of the world, and traditional area studies units. Recently, scholars have become especially interested in geographical intersections, such as those between sea and land, coast and interior, and lowland and highland. Here the work of historical geographers, sometimes overlooked, can help inform the way we conceive of and practice world history. This one-day conference will bring together researchers working on various parts of the globe, including the Americas, Africa, Asia, Oceania and Europe, and across different scales, to discuss the way that geographies – cultural, social, and imaginative as well as physical – provide valuable analytical tools for the writing of world histories.

We aim to facilitate discussion on a variety of topics related to geography and world history, including but not limited to:

Geographies of resistance

Crossing geographies; migration and mobilities

Institutional geographies; architectures of colonialism and anticolonialism

Urban geographies in world history

Race, gender, and space

Thinking geography; cartographers and geographers as colonial experts

This one-day conference will take place at the University of Cambridge on September 30, 2017. We encourage graduate students in any related discipline to apply, and welcome individual submissions or suggestions for panels. Please send an abstract (250 words or less) and a current CV to by Friday, 16 June 2017.


CFP: International Workshop on Changes and Continuities: Global History, Visual Culture and Itinerancies (Lisbon, Sept 14-16, 2017)

Readers working at the interface of cultural studies and global history will be excited to participate in this upcoming event  in Lisbon (Portugal) in September 2017. This event follows the success of two previous workshops in 2014 and 2015, and focuses on the interconnections between global history and visual culture. The workshop is organized by the Institute of Medieval Studies, the Portuguese Centre for Global History, the Institute of Contemporary  History and the Institute of Art History and will take place at the Universidade Nova de Lisboa (Nova University of Lisbon) from September 14-16, 2017.  The call for papers from the organizers provides the following details:

Following the Ist (2014) and IInd (2015) International Workshops “Changes and continuities”, the Institute of Medieval Studies, the Portuguese Centre for Global History, the Institute of Contemporary  History and the Institute of Art History, will organize the IIIrd Workshop entitled “Changes and Continuities. Global History, Visual Culture and Itinerancies”, to be held at the FCSH-UNL (September 14-16, 2017). The MeC3 will focus on three main research lines. All proposals will be distributed in one of them, under an interdisciplinary and trans-historical frame. Thus, the MeC3 accepts proposals relating to the following topics:
1. Global History – One of the main challenges that History has to face is globalization. National studies have demonstrated their incapability to correctly understand global phenomena, and the way in which they affect societies. This is why new parameters of study are needed. In this thematic line, the methodological and theoretical issues -in addition to the strictly historical one- will be studied n terms of globalization, from its origins, to its development and its present. Proposals may focus on the following subjects (not exclusively): comparative studies, evolution of global phenomena, historical processes in their diachrony, regional studies, changing economies, cultural continuities, methodological questions on globalization, etc.
2. Visual Culture – The insertion of Visual Culture in the theoretical methodology of Global History responds to the need to vindicate interdisciplinary. Through this theoretical approach, it will be possible to build a place of convergence for the different areas of Humanities; with the ultimate aim of creating a space for dialogue between the concepts of “Global History” and “Visual Culture”.
Only then we would be authorized to act through a “cultural visuality”. A better knowledge of the mechanisms of cultural interaction -underlining the process- remains an important problem, because the construction and deconstruction of Visual Global History is still taking place today. Therefore, rather than the study of images it is the study of the social life of images that will make sense.
Proposals may focus on the following subjects (not exclusively): traveling images, borders and images, social life of images, Visual Culture in Global History, theoretical sources for the study of the itinerant images; aesthetics of migration.
3. Itinerancies – One of the fundamental characteristics of Global History is interconnection. All human beings interact with each other, either passively or actively. In this context, one of the most relevant parameters of change emerges: the itinerancy of culture and knowledge. Therefore, itinerant agents take with them a cultural baggage, transporting and transmitting it to other spaces. In this way, the interconnection begins, producing active changes in Global History and Visual Culture. The relevance of the concept is due to the fact that it covers different areas of action: people who act as itinerant agents; materials that are brought in and taken away (traveling objects); origin and reception places of itinerant elements (anthropology of itinerancy); the visual, artistic or written representation of the phenomenon of itinerancy.
This Workshop aims to bring together researchers from different chronological periods, at different stages of their research, and to work on the themes indicated above. To submit a proposal you must complete the form available at until March 31, 2017. Abstracts and a short biography should contain a maximum of 300 words each.
Proposals may be in Portuguese, Spanish, English, French or Italian.
The Workshop includes the payment of a registration fee of € 20 for students and € 30 for researchers who submit a communication.
If you are interested in the above call, you will have to submit your abstract by March 31 2017 to Jorge Tomás García ( You can get further details on the workshop here.


CFP: “In Global Transit: Jewish Migrants from Hitler’s Europe in Asia, Africa, and Beyond”

Readers of the blog interested in the global history of migration and immigration may like to participate in a conference exploring new perspectives on Jewish flight and exile from Nazi Europe.

The event is organized by the German Historical Institutes London and Washington DC together with the newly established Branch Offices of the Max Weber Foundation in Delhi, Beijing and Berkeley, CA. This conference is to be held in Kolkata, India and will explore previously neglected places of Jewish refuge, particularly in Africa and Asia and also consider Jews from outside the Third Reich who were forced to flee Europe. The event is scheduled to be held in 2018, but the deadline for submission of abstracts is February 28, 2017. The call for papers from the organizers provides the following details:

The German Historical Institutes London and Washington DC together with the newly established Branch Offices of the Max Weber Foundation in Delhi, Beijing and Berkeley, CA are organizing a conference on new perspectives on Jewish flight and exile from Nazi Europe. The majority of scholarship on this topic has so far focused on the flight and emigration of Jews from Germany and Austria and on the destinations where the greatest numbers of people ended their journeys: the United States, Central and South America, and Palestine. The most recent additions to this extensive scholarship focus on previously neglected places of refuge, particularly in Africa and Asia and also consider Jews from outside the Third Reich who were forced to flee Europe.

Building on that scholarship, this conference aims at expanding the geographical, temporal, and conceptual lens on Jewish forced migration. This approach promises to offer new insights not only into the experience of the refugees but also into the reach of anti-Semitism and racism against the backdrop of colonialism and war. Many refugees traveled long and circuitous routes, which could take weeks, months, or, if longer stopovers were involved, sometimes years, with the final destination often unforeseeable.

During this conference we would like to pay special attention to neglected temporal and spatial aspects of forced migration from Nazi Germany and occupied Europe. We will focus on the destinations and processes of migration, giving particular attention to colonial and semi-colonial settings and the transit phase of migration. We are particularly interested in three main themes/areas of inquiry:

Economic and Humanitarian Aspects of Emigration and Escape. In transit, refugees had to rely on or cooperate with various local, national, international, and transnational actors and organizations — governmental and non-governmental, Jewish and non-Jewish alike. We would like to find out more about such entities and their interactions with refugees and other actors. One question we are interested in exploring is in what ways both non-Jewish and Jewish people involved in the transit of Jews from Europe may have profited from the refugees’ often desperate situations (e.g. states selling citizenship, human traffickers, shipping companies, etc.)

Encounters with Race, Racism, and Colonialism. Whether the refugees stayed temporarily in colonial India, for instance, or ended up settling in South Africa or the United States, they were confronted with racism directed at them as well as members of other ethnic and/or religious groups. We would like to explore how Jewish refugees experienced racial discrimination in the places that offered them refuge. What role did notions of ‘European superiority,’ ‘race,’ and ‘civility’ play in encounters between refugees and locals? How did Jews reflect on and come to terms with the complex, often intertwined layers of identity and belonging, particularly in colonial contexts (being outlawed and uprooted, while being reinforced in their self-identification and perception as European and thus privileged, but also classified and sometimes confined as ‘enemy aliens’ during the war)?

Multidirectional Encounters and Knowledge Transfer in Colonial and Semi-Colonial Wartime Contexts and their Aftermath. Jewish refugees brought Nazi persecution and war into regions that otherwise were only peripherally affected by the conflict and about which locals were often poorly informed. In this way, these places of refuge were also centers of learning, knowledge production and exchange, and we invite papers that investigate these processes and the long-term consequences for the refugees’ later lives. We are particularly interested in the experiences of different age groups and the specific knowledge adolescent migrants produced or culturally translated, but will also welcome new approaches toward class and gender.

Goals: The conference aims to bring researchers in the fields of migration, exile, and refugee studies into dialogue with specialists in Jewish history, colonial history, and the history of knowledge. We particularly welcome applications from doctoral students and recent PhD recipients.

We wish to address common research gaps and questions and to situate them in the context of general migration history. Framing emigration, exile, and refugee history as an entangled history in colonial contexts and situating it also in the history of the “Global South” can serve as a special prism for better interpreting processes that extend beyond Jews and Jewish history. In this way, we would like to extract these histories from often rather victim-centered narratives and explore more forcefully the interactions with people outside of the refugee/migrant communities as well as differences within these communities themselves. By doing so, we hope that the conference will contribute to shaping a new field of research—migrants’ knowledge in historical perspectives.

The workshop language will be English. Successful applicants can receive grants for travel and lodging expenses.

Further conferences on related topics will be organized by the Max Weber’s recently established offices in Berkeley and Beijing in 2019 and 2020 respectively. 

Please send a short abstract of no more than one page and a brief CV to Susanne Fabricius ( by February 28, 2017.

If you find the above call relevant to your area of research, please send your abstracts to the organizers by February 28, 2017. You may find further details at the events page on the GHI website.

Call for Papers: Bucerius Young Scholars Forum on “Histories of Migration: Transatlantic and Global Perspectives” (German Historical Institute West, UC Berkeley)

Young scholars working in the global history of migration will be excited to participate in a new annual program offered by GHI Washington and explore the history of migration from a supra-epochal, trans-regional and also interdisciplinary perspective. The 1st Bucerius Young Scholars Forum is scheduled to take place at the GHI’s upcoming branch office GHI WEST at UC Berkeley in November 2017.

The call for proposals provides more details about participating in the forum:

The GHI invites proposals for papers to be presented at the 1st Bucerius Young Scholars Forum, to take place at its branch office GHI WEST at UC Berkeley in November 2017. We seek proposals specifically from post-doctoral scholars, recent PhDs, as well as those in the final stages of their dissertations.

The Bucerius Young Scholars Forum is a new annual program designed to bring together a small transatlantic group of ten junior scholars from Germany, Europe and North America to explore new research and questions in the history of migration with a particular focus on questions arising from interlacing the perspectives of migration and knowledge, as these are extremely thorough and open to current debates. The forum is connected to the Annual Bucerius Lecture on “Histories of Migration: Transatlantic and Global Perspectives”, given and commented on by two prominent figures in the field of migration studies. Planing with precirculated papers, in the course of two days, the participants will give short presentations  of their individual research projects and – together with their mentors and peers – engage in discussions on the state of the research field.

The knowledge of migrants and their role as producers and translators of knowledge has so far received very limited attention. Existing research on this topic predominantly focuses on the early modern period and colonial history. Consequently, the Bucerius Young Scholars Forum aims to look at this phenomenon from a supra-epochal, transregional and also interdisciplinary perspective. Questions that we are particularly interested in are: What role did categories such as religion, ethnicity, gender, or age play in building a ‘new’ life? How important was the transfer, application and acquisition of knowledge in this process? To what extent have migrants introduced their traditional knowledge into their new societies? What knowledge was modified, and what new knowledge did they develop during the migration process? What was the significance of knowledge for their integration into existing social structures and into society as a whole? Which educational concepts did the various migrant groups pursue, and which were imposed on them by the receiving society or by the respective state? How did this correlate with integration or segregation? And lastly, what role did young migrants, who were able to translate between both countries and cultures, play?

If you’re interested in participating, then consider submitting an application to the organizers through the following guidelines:

While the focus of the forum will be on historic discourses, we also want to encourage young scholars working in the fields of social sciences, political sciences, anthropology, migration and area studies to apply. The workshop language will be English. The organizers will cover basic expenses for travel and accommodation. Please send short proposals (750 words max.) and a one-page CV to Dr. Sarah Beringer ( by February 15, 2017. Successful applicants will be notified by late April 2017.

CfA: Fifteenth Ischia Summer School on the History of the Life Sciences, 24 June – 1 July 2017 (Ischia, Italy)

Readers who work on the history of life sciences around the globe may be excited to participate in the prestigious week-long Ischia Summer School. Participants will receive advanced training in history of the life sciences through lectures, seminars and discussions. The courses in the summer school will be offered by distinguished faculty from around the world, in a beautiful and historical setting. The detailed invitation to the 15th Ischia Summer School is given below:

Applications are invited for this week-long summer school, which provides advanced training in history of the life sciences through lectures, seminars and discussions in a historically rich and naturally beautiful setting. The theme for 2017 is ‘Cycles of Life’. The confirmed faculty are Warwick Anderson (University of Sydney), Peder Anker (New York University), Ariane Droescher (University of Bologna), Guido Giglioni (Warburg Institute, London), Mathias Grote (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin), Shigehisa Kuriyama (Harvard University), Maaike van der Lugt (Université Paris Diderot), Lynn Nyhart (University of Wisconsin-Madison), Hans-Jörg Rheinberger (MPIWG, Berlin) and Lucy van der Wiel (University of Cambridge).

Course organizers: Janet Browne (Harvard University), Christiane Groeben (University of Naples), Nick Hopwood (University of Cambridge), Staffan Müller-Wille (University of Exeter) and the Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn.

Introduction to the theme

In the early twenty-first century, organisms are understood as having life cycles, inherited sequences of stages through which they reproduce and adapt to environmental challenges. Strategies to disrupt pest and pathogen life cycles play key roles in agriculture, biomedicine and public health. Organisms are also connected to each other, as well as to the air, soil, rocks and water, by material fluxes forming ‘biogeochemical’ cycles. The continual recycling of such elements and compounds as carbon, nitrogen and water links the life and environmental sciences from biochemistry to geology and ecology. The effects of human activities on these nutrient cycles threaten us with climate change, resource depletion and pollution, some of the biggest challenges in global politics today. Yet if cycles are topical, they are neither all new, nor all the same. Cycles of various kinds are among the oldest ways of framing human existence on earth and in the cosmos, and of thinking about health and disease, animals and plants – and at least calendars and seasons remain fundamental. This summer school seeks to understand the history of ‘cycles of life’ from early times to the present day, to trace connections and to identify patterns of continuity and change.

Cycles of generation and corruption, and of the transformation of the elements, have long structured knowledge and everyday life. The revolutions of the celestial bodies were thought to shape repeated events in the sublunary sphere, from the succession of the seasons to women’s monthly bleeding. Linking microcosm and macrocosm, William Harvey likened the circulation of the blood to the weather cycle. Human beings, their bodily constitutions and fever cycles determined by natal astrology, proceeded through the seven ages of man (or woman) in the hope that individual death would be followed by not just a new generation, but also spiritual rebirth. Religious festivals, calendars and almanacs followed an annual cycle, although Judaeo-Christian theology was based on a finite, arrow-like chronology that would provide an important resource for a transformation in conceptions of time around 1800.

In the Age of Revolutions this world was reconceived as a historical phenomenon subject to natural law. Enlightenment savants, notably James Hutton and Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, proposed that nature ran in perpetual cycles. Hutton’s earth was a machine like a steam-engine for producing worlds without beginning or end; in Lamarck’s transformism spontaneous generation initiated series upon series of ascending forms. By the nineteenth century theories of evolution were founded on the reality of irreversible change, not least through extinction. Individual organisms were understood to develop through life cycles that occasionally showed ‘alternation of generations’, the phenomenon of a species appearing in two different forms, such that an individual would resemble its grandmother and granddaughters, but not mother or daughters. Rich studies of life cycles led to new understanding of the reproduction of plants and animals, with perturbations providing variations from which nature would select.

The ground was laid for a more general view of cycles of life and nutrition during the debates that in the mid-1800s pitted Louis Pasteur against Justus Liebig and defined the roles of biology and chemistry in explaining the phenomena of generation, contagion and putrefaction. Biologically, life, even microscopic life, came to be understood as arising not spontaneously, but strictly from reproduction of the same species. Chemically, the cycles were more promiscuous: in accordance with the principle of the conservation of matter, microbes made new life possible by rotting dead bodies, returning their molecules to the earth and making them available for another organism. Pasteur taught that life stems from death and death from life in an eternal cycle. Chemical changes in individual bodies — Liebig’s ‘metamorphoses’, or ‘metabolism’ as it came to be known — were thus linked to life cycles and the larger circulation of elements. Fundamental cycles of photosynthesis, nitrogen fixation and carbon assimilation were identified in plants.

Biological cycles gained currency in the mid-twentieth century, from the citric acid (Krebs) to the menstrual cycle, from nutrient to cell cycles. On a larger scale, by deploying radioactive isotopes as tracers after World War II, ecologists such as Evelyn Hutchinson followed carbon and phosphorus through biogeochemical cycles that included living and non-living compartments of ‘ecosystems’. Cyberneticians touted ‘circular systems’ as a general key to ‘self-regulating processes, self-orientating systems and organisms, and self-directing personalities’; and feedback became a standard concept. Control techniques were invented to intervene in biological cycles and create artificial ones, from the oral contraceptive pill and IVF treatment to the thermal cycling that drives the polymerase chain reaction.

Historians have investigated only a few biological cycles and largely in isolation; this school aims to encourage synthesis. We shall explore shared properties of cycles, and the differences and relations between one discipline or research programme and another and over the centuries. Modern metabolic and diurnal cycles oscillate. Life cycles are directional and their individual spans finite. Heredity and evolution work through their succession and endless variation. Ecological cycles are open-ended — and yet the ideal of a return to an original state underpins all modern conservation and restoration work. Concepts of cyclicity in the life sciences thus operate on vastly different spatial and temporal scales, and at the same time constitute a productive point of intersection with physics, chemistry, geology and economics. How much the various modern and premodern cycles have in common, or what biological cycles share with those in other sciences, and other domains of knowledge and practice, are open questions. The theme ‘cycles of life’ invites fresh engagement with the history of the life sciences over the long term.

Draft lecture and seminar titles

Shigehisa Kuriyama | Lecture: Cycles, crises and slopes: Intuitions of life in the diverse medical traditions; Seminar: Cycles of life in traditional Chinese medicine

Maaike van der Lugt | Lecture: Life cycles and rhythms in medieval medicine and natural philosophy; Seminar: Urso of Salerno (fl. end of 12th century) and the rhythm of living things

Guido Giglioni | Lecture: The vital cycles of early modern bodies, natural and political; Seminar: Early modern cycles of life, death and illness

Hans-Jörg Rheinberger | Commentary: Times and cycles in biology

Lynn Nyhart| Lecture: The (developmental) life-cycle as a unifying concept in nineteenth-century biology; Seminar: Alternation of generations and life cycles

Mathias Grote| Lecture: Small bugs, large cycles: Microbes and ecology from Sergei Winogradsky to Lynn Margulis; Seminar: Cycles, regulation and intermediary metabolism

Ariane Droescher | Lecture: Lines or circles? Ways to understand the role of cells in biological phenomena around 1900; Seminar: Conflicting visions of cells in developmental and regeneration research

Warwick Anderson | Lecture: Microbial life cycles and population cycles; Seminar: From parasitic life histories to disease ecology

Peder Anker | Lecture: Ecological cycles in the twentieth century; Seminar: Ouroboros architecture: Histories of environmental design

Lucy van de Wiel | Lecture: Temporalities of reproduction: Life cycles and IVF cycles; Seminar: Viable rhythms: Cellular aging in time-lapse embryo imaging

Funding: The 2017 School is supported by grants from the Wellcome Trust and the National Science Foundation.

Cost: There is a charge for students of 300 Euros each. This will cover hotel accommodation and all meals, but students will need to pay for their own travel to Ischia.

The directors will consider requests to waive the fee from qualified students, especially from developing countries, who are unable to raise the money themselves and whose institutions cannot provide it. These must be supported by a detailed financial statement and a letter from the applicant’s head of institution.

Applications: Applications should include:

a statement specifying academic experience and reasons for interest in the course topic (max. 300 words),

a brief cv,

a letter of recommendation.


28 February 2017 | Deadline for applications – applications must have been received by Midnight CET

15 March 2017 | Students to be notified of application outcome

26 May 2017 | Registration fees and/or registration forms due

Procedure: Please send applications to this email address: The body of the email should start with the applicant’s full name (first name, surname and middle names or initials if desired). The statement, CV and recommendation letter should be attached as (preferably PDF) files, named surnamefirstname and statement (‘st’), CV (‘cv’) or recommendation (‘rec’).

Example: Applicant Alfred E. Neumann attaches to his email (1) his 300-word statement named NeumannAlfred-st.pdf, (2) his brief CV named NeumannAlfred-cv.pdf and (3) his supervisor’s recommendation letter named NeumannAlfred-rec.pdf.

You should receive confirmation within 24 hours of submission that your attachments arrived in readable form. Please contact the website administrator for any technical problems.

If email submission is impossible, you may send paper versions of the three documents to: Nick Hopwood, Department of History and Philosophy of Science, Free School Lane, Cambridge CB2 3RH, United Kingdom

The summer school is funded by the Wellcome Trust, the National Science Foundation, and the journal History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences.

The deadline for registrations is February 28, 2017. Interested readers may get further details about the summer school and registration here: