Political Culture and the History of Knowledge: Actors, Institutions, Practices
June 6-8, 2019
Conference at the GHI Washington
Conveners: Shadi Bartsch-Zimmer (Institute of the Formation of Knowledge at the University of Chicago), Kijan Espahangizi (Center "History of Knowledge" at the University Zurich and the ETH Zurich), Nils Güttler (Center "History of Knowledge" at the University Zurich and the ETH Zurich), Kerstin von der Krone (GHI Washington), Simone Lässig (GHI Washington), Monika Wulz (Center "History of Knowledge" at the University Zurich and the ETH Zurich)
Knowledge is omnipresent yet its value is increasingly being called into question. Amid the flood of information disseminated by social media, amid talk of "fake news" and "alternative facts," expertise is subject to challenges from many directions. These developments make the history of knowledge especially relevant today. They also make politics and political culture an ideal test case for assessing the potential and limits of the history of knowledge. Knowledge plays an important role in political activities from voter mobilization to governmental decision-making. As recent historical research on the role of expert knowledge has shown, the political realm functions as a knowledge space – a space where knowledge is gathered, produced, disseminated, manipulated, and regulated. By investigating the role of knowledge in politics, the proposed conference will seek to foster a transatlantic debate on the merits of using knowledge as a category of historical analysis; in particular, it aims to initiate a productive conversation between scholars working in the "history of knowledge" paradigm and scholars in other fields – such as political history, cultural history, and intellectual history – who are open to and curious about using knowledge as a category of analysis.