ESSHC 2020: Elites and forerunners network cfp

ESSHC 2020: Elites and forerunners network

From counter-elites to establishment to stagnation, to decline and fall.


Call for papers & sessions – deadline 15 April, 2019

Elites and forerunners network recommends a dynamic approach to the history of elites. Elites are seen primarily as forces of societal change, not only as holders of status and privilege or agents of stagnation. The decline and subsequent downfall of historical elites, sometimes followed by a re-emergence, also deserve attention. Elite formations should be explored across the full length of their life span, and even beyond.

The network invites individual papers that focus on the history of elites, understood in the widest possible sense. We also look for participants willing to organize complete sessions of four to five papers around a particular topic. Each session must include papers from and about several countries.

The network welcomes theoretical, methodological and conceptual approaches. Comparative sessions composed around thematic questions are favoured to narrowly defined epoch and geographically oriented sessions. Sessions focussing on unusual types of source materials or particular political, social, economic etc. contexts and processes are also recommended. Sessions may be organised in workshop, roundtable or meet-the-author form.

Session organizers may and should invite participants to join their session, but the acceptance of papers and the final organization of sessions rests with the network.

For Leiden 2020, the network specifically recommends the following session types and topics

  • roundtable session, focussing on conceptual, theoretical or methodological issues. – If you wish to organise or appear as a speaker in such a session, please contact the network chair via e-mail a.s.a.p. (All participants in the session will appear as “discussants”, allowing them to present their regular paper in other sessions.)
  • 20th-century land reforms, post-WWI to post-Cold-War, from the point of view of big landowners, progressive politicians and/or administrative elites
  • elite education as a means of creating pro-independence nationalist elites, in 19th-century and later contexts
  • aspiring/wannabe populist elites

The potential topics of Elites and forerunners network include, but are not limited to

  • aspiring, established, stagnated, declining, former and re-emerging elites
  • imperial, post-imperial, nationalist, international and transnational elites
  • sub-state and local, rural and urban elites
  • empires and their margins
  • elites away from home: colonial/colonialist, émigré and diaspora elites
  • rupture, rearrangement, continuity of elite structures after regime change
  • elites during totalitarian regimes
  • court elites, court culture and practices, semiotics of monarchy
  • military, religious, clerical, political, diplomatic, administrative and state elites
  • reactionary, conservative, progressive, radical, separatist, revolutionary and populist elites
  • business, industrial, technocrat elites: practices and structures of work, sources of wealth
  • intellectual, academic, educational, media, artistic and architectural elites
  • types, sources and strategies of power, status and distinction
  • semiotics of power
  • argumentation and propaganda aimed to criticise, overthrow, promote, establish or justify particular elites
  • elites seen from outside, or from “below”: caricatures and counter-images of particular elites
  • elite networks, from inter/supranational to local level
  • family strategies, symbolisms and hierarchies
  • landed and urban elite lifestyles
  • ”big money”: lifestyles and semiotics of great wealth
  • philanthropy and patronage of arts as elite practices
  • elites and gender
  • materiality of elites
  • heritage and preservation issues

To propose a paper, you must pre-register, by 15 April 2019, at the official ESSHC website

If you wish to propose a complete session, please contact the network chair well in advance, at <marja.h.e.vuorinen(at)>

Abstracts should indicate the type of elite the proposed paper is mainly about, along with its particular outlook and focus. (You will be asked to choose a sub-category, from a fixed list of keywords, also when filling in the official preregistration form. In the abstract, please feel free to define your particular field of elite studies with any and all terms that seem relevant.)

During conference, voluntary session chairs and discussants are invaluable for the smooth functioning of the sessions and the quality of discussion, so please consider ticking that box in the preregistration form.

The network FB group, titled Elites and forerunners, can be found at