Stories, Histories, Memories

November 20, 2020 - November 21, 2020
The Liberal Herald


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Middle East Technical University

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Call for Abstracts: Stories, Histories, Memories


Title: Stories, Histories, Memories

November 20 – 21, 2020

Deadline for Abstracts: October 15, 2020




Link for submission

The Liberal Herald is pleased to issue the Call for Abstracts for its seventh academic conference. The Liberal Herald was founded by students and alumni of the Bratislava International School of Liberal Arts and is organized in partnership with the Central European University and Bard College in Berlin

The conference brings together students and experts from several continents and academic fields to present their research on equal footing. The best contributions have the opportunity to be published in a book publication.

The conference is supported by research grants from the Slovak Research and Development Agency (grant No. APVV-15-0682) and Bringing Theory to Practice, an independent project in partnership with the Association of American Colleges and Universities.

Stories, Histories, Memories

We understand the world and ourselves through stories. We tell stories about who we are, as individuals, families, communities. These stories tell where we come from, what our purpose is, who are our enemies, what we believe in, and why. Stories create nations, elevate leaders, or make them fall. Stories of the past, in particular, are closely intertwined with our identities and politics. Yet these stories often conflict, with those others tell themselves and between themselves in a single person or culture. What do we understand, then, when we understand ourselves and the world through conflicting stories? Do we understand stories as conflicting or ourselves as in conflict? What stories do we choose to believe in and why these over others?

In Latin, both ‘stories’ and ‘histories’ are historarium and this overlap survives in Italian, French, Portuguese. Yet are the stories we tell ourselves histories, especially when they conflict? Are they narratives chosen for reasons separate from the story itself, for reasons that themselves have histories? Can history operate in the singular? Is there ever, can there ever, should there ever be history as such, at least as anything more than a certain dream of certain historians? Are histories always themselves just stories, perhaps just-so stories, regardless of the scientific rigor with which they are told?

Bernard Bailyn differentiated history from collective memory based on the latter’s “emotional, not intellectual” relation to the past. Historians are supposed to record and guard facts, objectively report events, whereas memory is selective and emotional, placing heroes and entire eras on a pedestal or damning them to hell. Yet, though the historian’s task is to look at the past through established facts and nothing but, he or she sifts through and selects only those they deem important to narrate a story, interpret connections, establish causes and consequences. Meanwhile, political leaders often operate with collective memory. They appeal to and justify their decisions by it, tap into the emotions associated with it. Governments establish institutional designs—laws, memorials, curricula and textbooks—that mold and are molded by our collective relation to the past and present.

Recent populist politics in India, the United States, United Kingdom, and Hungary as well as challenges to simple narratives established by statues in the United States, United Kingdom, and South Africa all highlight the use of collective memory and historical grievances for political goals, as do the statements on or silence over the thirtieth anniversaries of the 1989 revolutions in Central European countries.

This conference will explore the political and methodological questions concerning the relationship between stories, histories, and memories. That is, it aims to untangle, to the extent is possible, the difference between these connected phenomena.


  1. History and historiography

The craft of history

History textbooks and curricula

History in the singular

2. Politics of Memory and Identity

Collective memory in politics

“Dead bodies”: Statues, memorials, ceremonies

Emotions in the political use of the past

Public space and memorialization

3. Narratives

Narrative constructions of history and memory

The historian as storyteller

Hidden stories: Alternative histories, resistance

to mainstream narratives

4. Temporality

Changing relations to the past

Government’s crafting of collective temporality through institutional and legislative designs


Contributors must submit abstracts which are

– pertinent to the subject matter

– scholarly

– in English

– max. 300 words long

Authors of selected abstracts will be informed by October 20, 2020. Authors will be required to submit their complete entries by November 15, 2020.

All abstracts should be submitted via online form (LINK:


Selected papers will be published in 2020 in an online peer-reviewed collection of essays in the publishing house Kritika & Kontext.

Papers should be

– 2000 – 3500 words long

– revised and edited

– in APA citation and reference style format

Organizers and Contacts:

Bratislava International School of Liberal Arts (BISLA), Bratislava, Slovak Republic

Mgr. Dagmar Kusá, PhD., James Griffith, PhD

Email:,, Phone: + 421 915 373 226

Central European University, Budapest (CEU), Budapest Hungary

Robert Sata,

Bard College in Berlin, Berlin, Germany

Michael Weinman,

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