Obrigado Lisboa! DHHS members take on Portugal

Posted on June 07, 2024

Three members of the Department of Historical and Heritage Studies (DHHS) travelled to Lisbon, Portugal to attend the fifth biennial conference for the International Network for Theory of History (INTH). The conference took place from 21 – 24 May 2024 and was hosted by the Institute of Contemporary History (ICH) at the Universidade NOVA de Lisboa. 

The theme for the conference, “History & Responsibility: Doing History in Times of Conflicting Political Demands”, fittingly articulated the ethically challenging positions in which historians find themselves in the current socio-political climate. Over four days, more than 230 speakers presented papers related to the conference’s theme, including members from the department.

Head of Department, Professor Karen Harris, senior lecturer Dr Ian Macqueen and PhD candidate Robyn Schnell spent four days in the National Library of Portugal and the University Institute of Lisbon (ISCTE) attending panels with other academics from across the world.

Robyn Schnell presented her paper, ‘Drawing the line: the ethical dilemmas of writing biography’; Dr Macqueen presented his paper in collaboration with Dr Andrzej Turkowski from the University of Warsaw, Poland titled, ‘Doing Global History in a time of Resurgent Nationalism’; and Prof Harris presented her paper titled, ‘“White-washing or Black-washing?” - A case of “No-washing” South African history’. In addition, another South African, Kongko Louis Makua, a lecturer from the University of Stellenbosch, presented the paper ‘“Responsible History Writing.” What can it mean in historicizing the South African TRC Controversies and Irritations’.

The INTH conference provided a platform for discussion between historians and academics from other disciplines, joining them through two threads, their interest in historiography and their concern for what constitutes the historian’s ethical responsibility in the current context. The DHHS members also had the opportunity to meet esteemed historians such as Prof Joan W. Scott (Institute for Advanced Study, USA), Prof Daniel Woolf (Queen’s University, Canada), who in the past has provided virtual guest lectures to honours students in the GES 701 Historiography module, and Prof Hans Keller (North Carolina State University) amongst others.

A highlight was the way in which the conference provided members of the department with an opportunity to benchmark South African history and historiography with international standards, to which it compared very favourably. 

- Author Robyn Schnell

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