International Research School in Conceptual History and Political Thought

Conceptual History: Concepts, Metaphors and Discourses.

The Thirteenth Annual Conference of the History of Political and Social Concepts Group. Moscow, 16 – 18 September 2010.

The 13th annual conference will be held in Moscow from the 16th to the 18th September 2010. This conference is organised by HPSCG and the Russian State University for the Humanities in Moscow, in cooperation with European University in Saint-Petersburg and the German Historical Institute in Moscow.

In recent years, the focus of the HPSCG annual conferences has been on questions dealing with key concepts in different historical and social contexts, the specifics of transfers of concepts in various cultures in the world, and new theoretical and methodological challenges in the study of the history of concepts.

At the 13th annual conference of the HPSCG, we plan to examine theoretical questions concerning the links between key concepts and metaphors, as well as on historical semantics as a method. We intend not only to consider the distinction between the methods used by German, French, and English-speaking historians of political and social concepts, but also to discuss various research practices that combine different approaches to the historical study of concepts. The crucial historical role of transnational socio-political concepts in state-building and shaping collective identities has been a prominent theme for the HPSCG since its beginning. At the 13th annual conference, we want to explore specific dimensions of the reception, translation and adaptation of concepts such as ‘state,’ ‘democracy,’ ‘liberty,’ ‘citizenship,’ ‘nation,’ and ‘civilization’ in different natural languages and diverse cultures in the “East” and the “West.” One of the major conference themes will be the state of the Russian studies in the field of conceptual history.

The 13th annual conference will be organised around the following issues:

•   Concepts and Metaphors: time, theory and method

Within the framework of the conference, we plan to make clear some of the similarities and the differences between fundamental concepts and metaphors. Thus a special focus will be placed on the symbiotic relationships between conceptual history and the history of metaphors. We would like to invite researchers to a debate on the cognitive status, possibilities and limits of historical semantics. We also hope to discuss the potential for interaction between researchers in corpus linguistics, metaphorology, conceptual history, and historical discourse analysis, and to place an emphasis on the problem of how to relate linguistic materials with the historical and social contexts. 

•   East and West: transfers, entanglements and comparisons

We intend to investigate what might help in the comparison of histories of political and social concepts in different natural languages. Special attention needs to be given to conceptual changes and inventions, the variety of conceptual configurations and to semantic fields. In the debates on conceptual transfers from one culture to another, it is preferable to consider conceptualization as a controversial process, rather than to emphasize final forms of the concepts produced. We want to focus on the conceptual struggle and the complex shifts in meaning of key concepts in urgent historical moments, and entanglements of European, Asian and African semantics in the historical dynamics.

•     Conceptual history in Russia: past, present and future

A number of researchers in Russia have used German, English and French theoretical approaches to the conceptual history. We wish to explore some features of the application of historical semantics as a method in Russian social sciences.  An important standpoint will be to emphasize the complexity of the problems of transfers and translations of “Western” concepts in different Russian historical and social contexts. We will highlight the diverse modernist and anti-modernist strategies formed by the battles around concepts.

Invited speakers:

Senior Research Scholar Hans Erich Bödeker, Berlin
Professor Willibald Steinmetz, Bielefeld
Professor Bo Stråth, Helsinki
Professor Irene Herrmann, Fribourg and Geneva
Professor Victor Neumann, Timişoara
Professor Nikolay Koposov, Helsinki and Saint-Petersburg

The following is provisional list of panel sessions and topics, which will be further extended and complemented:

Conceptual history and related methods
The history of concepts and the history of emotions
The concept of civilization in different contexts
The concept of state
The concept of liberalism
The concept of parlamentarism
Discourses of social planning
The Organising Committee invites proposals for sessions and papers.


Submissions for applications to organize a panel session for the conference are invited. Interested individuals/groups should submit expressions of interest which include a synopsis of no more than 200 words outlining the duration, title, aims, and content of the proposed session.
All proposals will be reviewed by the Organizing Committee. Presentations will be selected to provide a program that offers comprehensive and diverse treatment of issues relating to the
conference theme.
Proposals must be sent to: Prof. Galina Zvereva (RGGU) and Prof. Martin Burke


All participants interested in presenting a contribution relating to the themes proposed are kindly asked to submit a one-page abstract (max. 400 words.)
Abstracts must be sent to Prof. Galina Zvereva (RGGU) and Prof. Martin Burke

The working languages of the conference are English, French, and Russian. The papers delivered in Russian are to have English or French summaries.


Application for the paper presentations at the conference should include: the paper title, section, one page of abstract and personal information written in English.

Personal information:

Full name
Name of organization
Current academic position
Telephone number
Do you need a visa invitation? (yes /no)

Registration form to be sent to Prof. Galina Zvereva (RGGU)
Monday, the 12th of July, 2010. Closing date for receipt of abstracts, to be sent to Prof. Galina Zvereva (RGGU) and Prof. Martin Burke (HPSCG)
Monday, the 19th of July, 2010. Notification of acceptance of abstracts.
Further information will be available at HPSCG webpage  ( and at RGGU Conference webpage soon.
For queries in the meantime please contact Prof. Galina Zvereva (RGGU)

Participants will be sent the invitation letter in order to obtain a Russian visa.


Неrе is the information you are to give us (after receiving notification) in order to get the original invitation letter from the Russian State University for the Humanities, necessary for getting a visa.

In order to enable International department to go through all formalities for an invitation, the following data is necessary for the Visa department:

1.    The purpose of your visit to RSUH (participation in a conference). Please provide last name and telephone number of your contact at RSUH (the name of the person who had invited you).
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5.    Your position (professor, graduate, etc).
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7.    The name of the city where you are to pick up the visa (that is, where there is a Russian Embassy/Consulate).
8.    What type of visa you require (one-time).
9.    The exact date of your visit to RSUH (the exact dates of arrival and departure).
10.    Where will you live (hostel RSUH, hotel or private apartment)
11.    Mail and telephone contact at which you expect our invitation. A personal fax number where you can be reached if needed.
12.    Post address (country, zip or postal code, city, street and number, telephone number) where you would like the original of the invitation to be sent.

Additional terms:

If the purpose of your visit is  participation in a conference your passport should be valid 6 months after you leave Russia.
The above information should be sent (after receiving notification) to E-mail [email protected] 


Invitations to enter Russia are issued by Federal Migration Service of the Russian Federation. Applications are handed to the Federal Migration Service minimum 45 days before your entering Russia. On account of this you are kindly requested to apply and send in you documents as early as possible to help to complete all formations in time without unnecessary haste.
If you have any other questions, please, don't hesitate to contact Visa Department of the RSUH.
For further details please contact: Tel: +7 (495) 250-63-54
Fax: +7 (495) 251-10-70
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