Critical Historical Studies is an attempt by current and former members of the University of Chicago’s Social Theory Workshop to confront what we see as a looming methodological crisis in the social sciences. We note that the predominantly cultural approaches to social life that have been in vogue in the historical social sciences in recent decades have proven incapable of grasping the large-scale transformations that social life has repeatedly undergone in the modern era – not least the economic and political crisis touched off in 2008. Discussions in the Social Theory Workshop have, over the years, developed the contours of an approach that strives to overcome both the idealistic tendencies of cultural historical studies and the opposite deterministic and reductionist propensities of social historical studies. This general approach carries on the tradition of critical theory and provides a supra-disciplinary perspective that grasps social and cultural questions as historically constituted. By bringing together scholars from a variety of fields, but with a common commitment to combining empirical research and theoretical insight, the conference aims to facilitate a methodologically-oriented exchange with agenda-setting goals.
The Conference will take place December 2-4, 2011 on the campus of The University of Chicago.
Chicago Center for Contemporary Theory
The Franke Institute for the Humanities
Department of History
The College of the University of Chicago
France Chicago Center
Department of Anthropology
Center for International Studies Norman Wait Harris Fund
Department of Political Science
Social Sciences Division