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Call for Papers | Art history at the crossroads of the social sciences

Appels à candidature

Call for Papers

Art history at the crossroads of the social sciences: An interdisciplinary dialogue on political and ideological issues around discursive fabrication
Paris, December 15th, 2017
CIERA/Centre d’histoire de Sciences Po

This one-day seminar aims to examine art history at the crossroads of various disciplines since the beginning of the 21 st century. It responds to the desire of young scholars to evaluate their own historiographical and methodological practices by confronting them with research in other disciplines within the social sciences. These include, but are not limited to, social history, cultural history, anthropology and sociology. We aim to stimulate exchanges between young researchers, thereby confronting the latest findings of these disciplines with the ideological issues that shape not only scientific discourse but also, more broadly, contemporary society.

We endeavor to put into perspective different but complementary disciplinary approaches to broad subjects which invite debate, specifically “identities”, “sociological approaches”, “post-colonialism,” and “images”.

Rather than undertaking an exhaustive evaluation of each of these themes, we aspire to capture the political dimension inherent to current historical discourses, regardless of whether this dimension is made explicit by researchers or exhibit curators. Our goal is neither to superimpose the discourse of political engagement on the social sciences, nor to “reveal” the political orientations of current research. Instead, using specific case studies of publications or recent exhibits, we endeavor to debate the value—or lack thereof-- of formulating a critical reflection on one’s own scientific practice.

The first thematic axis is articulated around questions of identity, structural foundations of art history as a discipline since the 19 th century. We aim to examine the extent to which the resurgence of nationalism has had an impact on recent research in the social
sciences. Papers could cover the place of identity-focused discourse in national history, notwithstanding the need to move past all existentialist conceptions of this notion. Recent exhibitions devoted to national scenes, or the latest publications on the construction of identity as a plural phenomenon, could be analyzed (for example, Patrick Boucheron (éd.), Histoire mondiale de la France, 2017 ; Tous des sang- mêlés, exhibition presented at the MacVal, 2017).

A second panel will cover post-colonial studies, a field currently explored within French art history. We hope to examine whether studies related to this discipline are “late” compared to those in literature or history. More positively, we wish to determine the specificity of French research on this issue, particularly compared to research led in the Anglo-Saxon sphere. Papers could cover the importance of a dialogue between history and art history on this issue, namely in relation to the role of images—which not only illustrate, but also engineer, power. Given that images contribute to the construction of a collective imaginary, we intend to question how a dialogue among disciplines can renew the analysis of representations.

A third axis will be devoted to the encounter between art history and sociology. Given that some recent publications in art history claim to represent the sociology of art, we will explore how sociologists consider recent studies such as that of Béatrice Joyeux-Prunel in Les avant-gardes artistiques, une histoire transnationale, 1848-1918 (2016).

This seminar will conclude with an exchange on the fabrication of discourse through images displayed in the specific context of an exhibition. This portion of the program could include presentations linked to recent exhibits on the subject of political events that don’t define themselves as politically-engaged. Some examples are the Jeu de Paume’s Soulèvements, the Musée d’Orsay’s Spectaculaire Second Empire or the Maison Rouge’s l’Esprit français.

The day’s program will consist of workshops in which each participant will present a case study in relation with his or her research, which he or she will examine in the context of his or her scientific career, and historiographical and methodological practices.


Applications should include a paper proposal of 300 works maximum as well as a C.V., and should be sent to and before September 30, 2017. This conference will take place on Friday, December 15 th , 2017 at the Centre d’histoire de Sciences Po, 56 rue Jacob, 75006 Paris.

A reimbursement is possible for participants traveling from outside of Paris.

Planning committee:
Dr. Sophie Goetzmann, PhD in Art History from Paris-Sorbonne University
Dr. Julie Sissia, PhD in Art history from the IEP de Paris, researcher associated with the
Centre d’histoire de Sciences Po.

Scientific committee:
Dr. Laurence Bertrand Dorléac, Art history professor at Sciences Po
Dr. Anne Lafont, Director of studies at the EHESS

With the support of:
Centre interdisciplinaire de recherches sur l’Allemagne (CIERA) in the domain of “junior”
colloquia. Centre d’histoire de Sciences Po (CHSP)