Call for papers


(Deadline expired)

The International Society for Cultural History invites paper and panel proposals for its 14th annual conference on Cultures of Belief and Unbelief. The conference will be held in Verona, Italy, 2–5 August 2022.

The current political arena and the response to the pandemic are the battleground of spectacular cultural wars, involving the systematic production and circulation of fake news and the – often preposterous – questioning of facts. These developments, which come last in a long series, invite historians to critically revisit the way belief has been constructed, controlled and questioned in the past in a wide spectrum of fields, from information to the understanding of nature, and beyond.

With its focus on mental maps and modes of representation of reality, cultural history is particularly well equipped to offer a substantial contribution to the quest for understanding, beyond the biological level of the formation of images and ideas, the social processes by which people from different groups and in a variety of contexts have developed faith as well as scepticism, and the way belief and unbelief have prompted them to action or inaction.

Possible topics for panels and individual papers include, but are by no means limited to:

  • Knowledge, information and belief
  • Philosophical grounds of belief and unbelief; scepticism
  • Belief and unbelief conjoined (as believing in religion but not in magic, or vice versa)
  • Beliefs and practice in ritual behaviour
  • Communities of belief and the experience and agency of individuals
  • The control and censorship of beliefs and historical contexts for unbelief
  • Emotions, the senses and faith
  • Faith and the arts
  • The material and visual culture of faith: objects and images, their usages and power
  • Believing in myths and fables; willing suspension of disbelief
  • Contested beliefs and the caricature of the beliefs of others
  • Belief and unbelief in scientific knowledge and the cultural and political wars of the covid-19 pandemic in historical perspective

In addition, we warmly welcome also papers or panels discussing:

  • theory and methodology of cultural history
  • new approaches to cultural history
  • history of cultural history

DEADLINE for abstracts: 31 January 2022

Participants will be informed by 28 February 2022.

Presentations should be no more than 20 minutes in length and delivered in English:

  • Individual paper proposals should consist of an abstract (not exceeding 300 words) and a 1-2 page CV.
  • Panel proposals should consist of the name of the organizer, an overview of the panel (not exceeding 500 words), abstracts for each paper (not to exceed 300 words), and 1- 2 page CVs for each presenter.

Proposals and inquiries should be sent to:

Proposals from PhD candidates and early-career scholars are warmly welcomed.

Those whose abstracts are accepted for presentation will be expected to become members of the ISCH. Further details can be found on the society’s website.

Presenters are invited to consider submitting articles to the ISCH’s official peer-reviewed journal, Cultural History, published by the Edinburgh University Press, and monographs to the book series it publishes with Routledge.

Conference chair: Prof. Alessandro Arcangeli (University of Verona)