From the Roman notion of civitas to the Islamic duty of da’wah and the French colonial mission civilisatrice, universal claims have been deployed in the service of causes, movements, and ideologies of all kinds. They attempt to create order, unity, and meaning, yet thereby give rise to contestation.
This conference seeks to address the following questions: What kinds of universal claims have been advanced and how have they been transformed over time in different regions and historical periods? How do such claims take concrete form in the actions of polities and the practices of communities from the local to the global? How do they accommodate or resist particularities or rival universalisms? We wish to consider a range of entities that promulgate universal claims (such as states, nations, empires, religions, and social and political movements) in a multitude of realms (such as law, morality, norms, and identities). As this conference is presented in conjunction with the Center for International History’s annual theme, “In the Name of Humanity,” we are especially, but not only, interested in the ways in which universal claims have been embodied in the discourses and politics of human rights and humanitarian intervention.
We invite submissions from all time periods – ancient, medieval, early modern, and modern – and various geographic regions. Papers on topics that are broadly transnational or global in scope are preferred. Additionally, we encourage interdisciplinary research, and although proposals with a historical perspective are particularly welcome, we will also consider contributions from the fields of anthropology, sociology, literary studies, political science, and economics. Please send an abstract of no more than 300 words and a recent CV as email attachments (Word preferred) by January 1, 2009 and any inquiries to Simon Stevens at the following address: email@example.com
For more information regarding the conference can be found at the Center for International History’s