Negotiating Hierarchy: Status and Rank in European History
The 13th Annual Graduate Conference in European History (GRACEH), to be held at the Central European University (Budapest), April 25–27, 2019
Hierarchies—as a fact and as a representation—are a seemingly permanent feature of human societies. For centuries, ideas such as the Great Chain of Being had a prominent place in religious, political, and scientific thought, spreading as far afield as biological theory. Often, hierarchies have been taken for granted, allowing them to self-perpetuate; conversely, societal rejection of these hierarchies has resulted in some of history’s greatest upheavals.
Debates on social hierarchy today often draw back to foundational authors like Karl Marx, Max Weber, and Vilfredo Pareto. Since their time, discussions of power, authority, order, tradition, and other key facets these authors have invoked in their work have remained at the forefront of the humanities and social sciences. A dialogue between disciplines such as sociology, anthropology, economics, legal science, and history is crucial to any complex interpretation of historical events.
Among the varied fields of historical research, issues of status have primarily been dealt with by social history. Having rethought the relationship between structure and agency, as well as between the material and the cultural, social historians have recently shifted to a more nuanced understanding of social phenomena. While focusing mainly on this culturally-oriented social history, our conference also invites contributions from other fields of historical research, and from other disciplines.