Coping with Crisis

RHN 9/2013 | Call

Organiser: Alex Brown, Andy Burn and Rob Doherty (Durham University)

26-28 July 2013, Collingwood College, Durham University

Deadline: 22 February 2013

Coping with Crisis:
Re-evaluating the role of crises in economic and social history

In recent years there has been a pervasive despondency throughout the world economy, with warnings of current and impending crises permeating modern society. Even though the reverberations from the global financial crisis of 2007/8 have barely settled, there are further warnings of future ecological and demographic catastrophes unless current consumption patterns are altered. The theme of crisis has been a ubiquitous analytical concept for historians from Marxist theories of structural change in society to anthropometric history. Different forms of crisis have been explored in nearly every strand of history, ranging from agrarian famines to epidemiological outbreaks, and from financial collapses to disasters precipitated by conflict and trade disputes.

Coping with Crisis will bring together researchers exploring various forms of economic and social crises across traditional time periods to generate a greater understanding of the meaning and usefulness of the term crisis within history. Are there commonalities between different crises? How have societies dealt with crises and how have they overcome them? Is crisis in fact the normative state, and could this undermine its utility for historical research? Themes explored within the conference will include, though are not restricted to:

  • The historical concept and meaning of crisis
  • The transformative nature of crisis and its role in economic development
  • Contemporary perceptions, interpretations and responses to specific crises
  • The mechanisms of crises and the importance of exogenous or endogenous factors
  • The social, political and religious causes and consequences of economic crises

Proposals for papers are welcomed from researchers in all academic disciplines who take a historical approach to crisis from medieval to modern history, exploring broad themes or particular case studies. While the focus of the conference is primarily economic and social history, papers dealing with other aspects of crisis are also welcome.

Thanks to the generous support of the Economic History Society, a limited number of bursaries will be available to assist postgraduates and early career researchers with travel or accommodation. We welcome proposals for 20-minute papers or panels of three papers exploring crisis across traditional time periods. Please send a title and abstract (of up to 300 words) to Alex Brown, Andy Burn, and Rob Doherty at The deadline for submission of proposals is Friday 22nd February 2013.

The conference has received generous support from the Economic History Society, The Institute of Medieval and Renaissance Studies and Durham University’s History Department.