Registration is open for the International Conference ‘Information and Power in History’ (16-17 March 2017). Over forty speakers in five panels will present their research on the connection between information and power through history.
“Nowadays we all know that information is the key to power, and that the masters of information rule the world,” Anthony Grafton wrote in his commendation of Jacob Soll’s book on Jean-Baptiste Colbert, The Information Master (2009). Yet this notion is much older; it has even been attributed to the Chinese general Sun Tzu (544-c. 496 BCE). As far as the relationship between power and information is concerned, present-day scholars point out that we find ourselves in a special phase. The ‘information revolution’ of today has caused information to become a separate object of study during the last two decades. Historians distinguish different ages of information, from the invention of the printing press to the age of the scientific revolution to that of the digital revolution. Notwithstanding past and present fears, the information revolution has not brought an Orwellian control of society by the central government. On the contrary, some experts would say that modern communication techniques have ensured a fragmenting and decentralizing effect on the provision of information.
It is clear that the relationship between the control over information and the exercise of power is a relevant subject for all times. Since research into its historical evolution has been recent, this two-day conference aims to put this topic explicitly on the research agenda. We are particularly interested in the connection between different types of information and the exercise of power, including the role of confidentiality; knowledge regarding politics and international relations, opposition movements, (weapon) technology, geography or economic issues; among others. We want to focus on actors who provided (or tried to withhold) information, whether and how its quality and reliability can be established; and how crucial knowledge became exclusively available to those who exercise power.
Keynote speakers: Prof. dr. Ann L. Stoler and Dr. Toni Weller.
This conference on 16-17 March 2017 (Amsterdam) is organized by Huygens Institute for the History of the Netherlands (Huygens ING) in collaboration with Radboud University (RUN) and Utrecht University (UU). The organizational team includes Prof. dr. Ida Nijenhuis (Huygens ING, RUN), Dr. Marijke van Faassen (Huygens ING), Dr. Ronald Sluijter (Huygens ING), Dr. Wim de Jong (RUN) and PhD Joris Gijsenbergh (RUN, UU). The conference organizers are grateful for financial and material support from Huygens ING, RUN and The Research School Political History (OPG).