CfP: Recasting subjects and subjectivities in the writing of history: strategies, spaces and conflicts in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries

Call for papers, deadline 15 February 2022

The Workshop “Recasting subjects and subjectivities in the writing of history: strategies, spaces and conflicts in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries” is organized by the PhD in Global History and Governance of the Scuola Superiore Meridionale, a programme based on a multi-disciplinary approach centred on history and law and focused on the comparisons, connections and processes of globalization that have characterized different areas of the planet since the 15th century.

The event aims to offer a space of discussion for PhD students, researchers, and scholars who, in their investigations, focus on the centrality of subjects in creating spaces of action and mobilization inside the societal structures in which they moved, as well as in the global and local processes with which they interacted.

Building on an understanding of history and historical processes as a continuously contested field, this Workshop will focus on how different subjects influenced and reshaped their own social, economic and legal conditions through individual or collective action. In particular, it intends to discuss how social actors have exploited and used mechanisms of power which were not meant for them or created spaces of autonomy inside the existing structures.
In the last decades, several works have challenged historiographical paradigms in different fields of the discipline of history by recasting the role of subjects who have been for a long time neglected or pushed at the margins of social analysis, bringing them back at the center of historical fabric (Cooper, Holt, Scott, 2000; Scott, 1988; Stoler, 2009). Moving beyond standpoints which identify the ruled ones as either passive or merely reactive actors, many scholars have shed a light on how, even under the brutality of particular systems of expropriation and violence, as colonization, slavery and work exploitation, these subjects still have opened up spaces in the interstices of power to carry out claims, struggles and to make their voices heard, even while moving within the current power dynamics (Cooper, 2014; Jones, 2018; Stanziani, 2018).

Thus, we invite applications which address the role of social actors in exploiting unforeseen conditions and in formulating new spaces of action, which move from the private to the public, from the individual to the collective. We prioritize contributions focusing on how individuals and groups have exploited the crucial transformations and dis-junctures of forms of power, institutions, and juridical systems which shaped the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In particular, the processes of abolition and emancipation, imperial reorganizations, decolonization, and recognition of individual and collective rights.

We welcome contributions based on different geographical contexts which address one or more of the following guiding questions:

- How did individual and collective subjects use and strategically exploit these shifts in nineteenth and twentieth century legal and political frameworks to open up possibilities for the improvement of their own conditions?

- How did individual and collective subjects challenge or redefine the “rules of the game” at the intersection of global and local processes?

- How did processes of exchange, circulation and contamination influence subjects’ routes of action in their local dimension?

- How were existing hierarchies based on gender and race contested, reshaped or exploited in order to create spaces of emancipation or political action?

The Workshop will combine presentations and discussion of the participants’ papers with key-note lectures held by Professor Rebecca Scott (University of Michigan), and two other speakers who are still to be announced. Please submit your paper proposal (title, maximum 500-words abstract - bibliography excluded, current affiliation and a short CV, of maximum 1 page) to by February 15th, 2022. Subject: Workshop: Recasting subjects and subjectivities in the writing of history. Abstracts will be selected by March 15th, 2022, and researchers will be asked to send a paper (max 6.000 words - bibliography excluded) by May 15th, 2022, in order to pre circulate them among the participants and the keynote speakers.

The Workshop will be hosted in Naples from the 22nd until the 24th of June 2022, and the Scuola Superiore Meridionale will cover accommodation for all participants and, upon request, partial reimbursement for travel expenses for the participants who do not have other funding. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which could result in travel and assembly restrictions, the dates might change. Also, travel requirements to enter Italy are changing: selected participants are required to check the rules before traveling to Italy. At the moment, to enter the university premises, participants must show an EU accepted vaccination certificate, or a negative test received in the last 48 hours. For further information about the Summer School, please contact the organizers: Anna Nasser ( and Marjorie Carvalho de Souza (

Organizing and scientific committee: Daniela Luigia Caglioti, Marjorie Carvalho de Souza, Olindo De Napoli, Anna Nasser, Alessandro Stanziani


Cooper, Frederick. (2014). Citizenship between empire and nation. Remaking France and French West Africa, 1945-1960. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Cooper, Frederick; Holt, Thomas C.; Scott, Rebecca. (2000). Beyond Slavery. Explorations of Race, Labor and Citizenship in Postemancipation Societies. Chapel Hill and London: The University of North Carolina Press.

Jones, Martha. (2018). Birthright Citizens: A History of Race and Rights in Antebellum America. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018.

Scott, Joan Wallach. (1988). Gender and the politics of history. New York: Columbia University Press.

Stanziani, Alessandro. (2018). Labor on the Fringes of Empire. Voice, Exit and the Law. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Stoler, Ann Laura. (2009). Along the archival grain. Epistemic anxieties and colonial common sense. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

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