CFP – Social approaches to eighteenth-century international history. Diplomacy, trade and knowledge as regional phenomena

Social approaches to eighteenth-century international history.

Diplomacy, trade and knowledge as regional phenomena


The Centre d’Histoire of Sciences Po and the Institut d’Histoire Moderne et Contemporaine (CNRS, Paris 1, ÉNS) invite scholars with fresh research projects to submit proposals for a workshop on Social approaches to eighteenth-century international history that is to take place at Sciences Po, on April 8, 2016.

International history cannot be restricted to the basic study of diplomacy anymore; a recent wave of scholarship enlarged international history’s traditional focus to make it encompass the social dynamics that shaped early modern and modern societies. This new social history of diplomacy stresses the diversity of the institutional and non-institutional agents –ambassadors, consuls, merchants, interpreters, freemasons or pirates…– involved in the different and diverse processes of negotiation. At the same time, the constitution of a “milieu” as well as the social integration of diplomats through their networks and patronages are now slightly emphasized. This historical trend regularly intersects with the prolific history of the trading diasporas and both of them examine the numerous interconnections and interferences between diplomacy, trade and knowledge vehicle by merchants, interpreters or clergymen. Intellectual history also benefits from such a synergy and the study of the circulation of knowledge within diplomatic and commercial networks, as well as the numerous technological and intellectual transfers supported by, for example, the Jewish, Jacobite or Huguenot diasporas has lead to an increased attention paid to regional phenomena.

As a result of this vibrant renewal, two antagonistic historiographical trends emerge to offer an interpretation of regional social phenomena. The first one emphasizes the role played by cross-cultural brokers and acknowledges the existence a large panel of actors able to connect different societies thanks specific commercial, linguistic or political skills. The second one questions such inter-/trans-national/religious/cultural paradigms arguing that it leads to focusing too narrowly on borders and therefore to overlooking the social practices of the actors who crossed them. To remedy this, the second approach disconnects both the political and social layers to get a better understanding of networks and clienteles. Comparing the two models, recent international research projects (such as the ANR/DFGs Euroscientia and Musici or the ERCs ConfigMed and Jagiellonians) provide a new methodology that pays close attention to regional phenomena and deconstructs given geographical categories. In fact, they argue, diplomacy, trade and knowledge generated criss-crossing and overlapping circulations that have now to be compared and connected with one another.

With this as a starting point, the workshop aims to confront, share and discuss the fresh claims on eighteenth century international history and its social approaches. We particularly encourage proposals that are able to link at least two of the three sectors (diplomacy, trade and knowledge) and those that deal with the opportunities and limits of such trans-sectorial history. Contributions that handle different academic historiographies and traditions will be strongly privileged as well. Themes that we would like to tackle include but are not limited to:

  • Eighteenth-century regionalism and sectorial integration;
  • Networks and entanglement;
  • Cities and circulation;
  • Personal cross-sectorial paths.

Submission guidelines

Prospective contributors should submit an original 500-word proposal. All proposals must be submitted electronically in two different files in PDF format to by September 27, 2015.

The first file will contain the name of the author, his/her affiliation, his/her contact information, and the title of the proposal. The second will include the 500-word abstract and the title of the proposal. As this second file is for blind review, it must not identify the author in any way.

For further enquiries, please contact


  • Dr. David Do Paço, Ph.D. Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne  (2012), EUI Max Weber fellow (2013-2015), currently researcher at Sciences Po& CEU-IAS Junior core fellow.

Scientific committee

  • Prof. Pierre-Yves Beaurepaire | Université de Nice Sophia-Antipolis.
  • Dr. David Do Paço | Sciences Po.
  • Prof. Christine Lebeau |Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne.
  • Dr. Nicole Reinhardt |Durham University.
  • Prof. Ann Thomson | European University Institute.
  • Prof. Jakob Vogel | Sciences Po.
  • Prof. Christian Windler| Universität Bern.

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