Business History Conference - Reinvention: Call For Papers -
March 16th – March 18th, 2023*
Reinvention has long been a central theme in our field. Business historians have examined how entrepreneurs introduce new products and services that replace old ones, considered how businesses recreate themselves, and explored how markets are transformed over time.
But this coming year – as we prepare for Detroit and forge plans for what an association like ours should look like in an era marked by pandemic, war, and climate change – the theme of reinvention takes on a variety of new and pressing meanings. How do places and people reinvent themselves? What should a scholarly association look like in the twenty-first century? What questions, methods, and forms should a field like business history embrace in order to grapple with the big questions we face today?
Reinvention, as these questions suggest, may be understood as very different from invention. Whereas invention focuses on the new, reinvention demands that we take into account the past to understand the future. It suggests that rethinking historiography is essential to effectively raising new questions and new methods. It insists on the capacity of history to be creative as well as analytical. Reinvention, one might say, raises fundamental questions about how we know something historically.
Informed by the theme of reinvention, the BHC Program Committee invites sessions and papers that consider reinvention from a variety of different perspectives. Reflecting the ongoing evolution of the BHC itself, we are especially interested in submissions that address diverse geographic locales and time periods; analyze the different ways that race, class, and gender have affected the ability of entrepreneurs, firms, and communities to reinvent themselves in times of uncertainty and change; address the role of governments, politics, and power in in the process of reinvention; and any number of similar subjects. Finally, the organizers welcome proposals with innovative formats that promote discussion on how to conduct research and teach business history in the so-called post-pandemic era.