Call for Papers –Association of Business Historians Annual Conference 2022 - TURNING POINTS AND PERSISTENT PROBLEMS
1-2 July 2022
Strathclyde Business School, Glasgow
Business historians are often drawn to change, attempting to identify the fulcrums that lever advantage or innovation or demise. The opportunity to examine the reaction and interaction of business, the individual, society and the state in the past is assumed to offer insight into the here and now. All business history – at least to some extent – channels Santayana’s observation that those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
However, do all business histories approach the commonplace assertions that we revisit, re-examine, and learn the lessons of the past in the same way? What are the assumptions we are making when we link the past to the present? Can we interrogate our assumption that the issues we study are cyclical in ways that still acknowledge that societies grapple with persistent problems?
Historical events, such as crises, crashes, and now (tragically) pandemics, often provide researchers (and conference organisers) with a convenient entry point to the discussion of persistent cyclical problems. But are they necessary for business history to prove its relevance? As a focus on “everyday life” and microhistory recognises, these can be distractions from highly revealing periods of stasis. Equally, a focus on crisis can run the risk of linear narratives that flatten the complexity of changing historical context and contingencies. The conference will especially welcome contributions that include reflections on the way that we frame business history, the uses of history within business and management subjects (and indeed other social sciences), the persistence of problems, and how we position our work in relation to the contemporary challenges experienced by
business today. We are keen to encourage a wide range of approaches and different methods of delivery.