Past Conferences

View the Homepage of the 2014 ISCH Annual Conference that was Held at Monash South Africa, Ruimsig Johannesburg (24 – 27 November 2014).

11th September to 14th September 2013, Istanbul, Turkey: Artefacts, Culture, and Identity

The 07th annual conference of the International Society for Cultural History (ISCH) will take place from 11th September to 14th September 2013. The conference will be hosted by the Istanbul Faculty of Medicine in Istanbul University, Turkey.

To download the ISCH 2013 Conference Programme – click here

Download the ISCH 2013 Call for Papers here

2-5 July 2012, Lunéville Castle, France: The Cultural History of Work


The 2012 conference was hosterd by Didier Francfort (Nancy Université). The call for papers was as follows

At a time when the questions raised by unemployment, retirement pensions and hard work are major stakes in today’s societies, cultural history can shed a new light on work as a notion.

How is it possible to write a “cultural history of work”, an expression which is traditionally associated with sociology, economics and social history? What importance should be attached to working practices and workers in historical analysis? What part is played by work, trades and vocational focuses in the history of cultural practices and representations of work?

It was the intention of the 2012 Lunéville Conference to reflect on the links between work and culture, by starting a dialogue between several trends of historiography, at the crossroads of several fields and disciplines. The papers will reflect this diversity, focusing on various periods, various countries and relying on various methods and theories.

For that purpose, several themes were suggested.

  • The definitions and representations of work: the difference between working and not working, reflections on voluntary and unpaid work, militancy, domestic chores, artistic and intellectual work, or working on and transforming oneself through mourning, psychotherapy or psychoanalysis.
  • The habits and traditions of workers and the role of culture at work ― focusing on trade unions, labour movements, farming, paternalism, or workers’ councils, employment law.
  • Culture as work: creative work, the various trades related to culture, the vocational focus in arts occupations.
  • Work as enslavement or as a liberation: (coal-)mining or slavery are the first examples that spring to mind, but the notions of suffering and pleasure at work, linked to the histories of the body and of sensitiveness, could also be treated.
  • Work and gender, involving social relationships and professional statuses.
  • Work and migrations: the division of work in various countries, the circulation of workers and production modes in a globalized world.

View the Call for Papers here. For further information about the castle go to

Oslo, Norway, 3-6 August 2011: History – memory – myth: Re-presenting the past

The call for papers was as follows: “The conference theme “re-presenting the past” communicates with the international and interdisciplinary field of collective memory, which has grown considerably during the last decades. Studies of commemorations and festivals, monuments, exhibitions and museums, historical films and narratives are now numerous. Terms such as social memory, collective or collected memory, kulturelle Gedächtnis, lieux de mémoire, the presence of the past and the use of history all illustrate the scholarly interest in how the past – or images of it – is constructed, composed, negotiated and built up, but also demolished, dismantled and rejected. This constructional work has been investigated on the individual level, concerning personal memories and private history. Studies in this field have also focused on processes of nation building, the construction of ethnical or other group identities, and heritage care and preservation.”

The theme of the conference was chosen with the hope that it would attract the attention of scholars in the wide and complex field that cultural history is. The committee received proposals for more than two hundred papers, of which about 160 were accepted. With as much as seven parallel sessions, they were presented during the days of the conference, making it a truly international event.

The conference keynote speakers were Tony Bennett, François Hartog, Lotten Gustafsson Reinius, and Yael Zerubavel as well as the President of the ISCH, Liv Emma Thorsen.

The papers confirmed the vitality as well as the complexity of cultural history as a field. Scholars who identify themselves as cultural historians come from a large variety of academic disciplines, which implies that even if all papers addressed the overall theme of the conference, they did so in different ways and from different points of view.

The papers discussed monuments, memorials and rituals; museums, literature and art; nostalgia, narratives and historiography. More fundamentally they explored how the past becomes history and how that history is at work in societies. Together they demonstrated that to cultural historians history is not merely the scene on which culture takes place, or the processes that make culture change. History can also be explored as culture.

The conference took place two weeks after the terror attacks on Oslo and at Utøya. Some adjustments had to be made to the program due to the extraordinary situation. The committee would like to thank all participants for coming to Oslo and help us continue an open dialogue and the exchange of meaning, knowledge and arguments that a peaceful and democratic society is built upon.

View the conference booklet here.

Turku, Finland,  26-30 May 2010: Close Readings, Critical Syntheses

View the conference booklet here.

To link to the conference website, click here.

The keynote speeches were broadcast on the web and it is anticipated that some will be made available via Utube in due course, and that the links will be made available on this site.

Brisbane, Austrialia, 20-23 July 2009: Cultures of Violence and Conflict

View the Call for Papers here. View the conference booklet here.

Inaugural Conference, Ghent, 27-31 August 2008: Orientations

Click on the links below for some conference details and documents.

Review of Conference by Sophie Kienlen of Centre d’histoire culturelle des sociétés contemporaines Université de Versailles, France.

For further Information to travel and accommodation click here.

Varieties of Cultural History, Aberdeen, 5-8 July 2007

At the ‘Varieties of Cultural History’ conference, at the University of Aberdeen, 5-8 July 2007, the Provisional Committee was founded which prepare for the formal lauch of the Society in Ghent.

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