"Historicizing Emotions" – World Congress of Historians, Jinan 2015

22nd International Congress of Historical Sciences | Poster
© Radmila Slabáková Švaříčková

From 22 to 29 August 2015, the 22nd World Congress of Historians took place in Jinan (Shandong Province, China) organized by the International Committee of Historical Sciences (ICHS) in cooperation with the Association of Chinese Historians and the Shandong University. More than 2,700 participants from 90 countries attended the congress.

At the beginning of the International Congress of Historical Sciences, the Finnish historian Marjatte Hietala, president of the ICHS, set a goal for the event: "The international conference is a success if it opens new aspects to history." (China Daily, 22-23 August 2015, special issue). Especially the four highly noted Major Theme Days on China from Local Perspectives, Historicizing Emotions, Revolutions in World History, and the Digital Turn were expected to provide such an impetus.

Under the heading of Historicizing Emotions the relatively new but burgeoning field of the history of emotions testified to its increasing visibility among the global community of historians represented by the ICHS. Not surprisingly, the call for papers mainly attracted scholars from Europe and Australia. But the keen interest of the participants in Jinan gives rise to the hope that the conference enhanced the attention for this new approach on a global scale.

ICHS Major Theme Day: Historicizing Emotions

With the organization of one of the four Major Theme Days, the history of emotions gained "its international recognition", wrote the Neue Zürcher Zeitung (international edition, 3 September 2015).

Philippa Maddern, founding director of the ARC Center of Excellence for the History of Emotionsin Perth, and Ute Frevert, director at the MPI for Human Development in Berlin and head of its Centre for the History of Emotions, took the initiative in planning the Major Theme Day program. Philippa, however, sadly passed away in 2014 before she could see the program materialize. Her successor, Andrew Lynch, helped to organize the panels but did not attend the Jinan Conference.

Eleven researchers from eight countries presented and discussed their papers on 24 August 2015 in a very well attended conference hall. The program, divided into four panels, was chaired and initially commentated upon by Ute Frevert. The Australian partners of the ARC were represented by the discussants Charles Zika (University of Melbourne) and Jacqueline Van Gent (The University of Western Australia). The contributions spanned an historical arc from the early modern period to the recent past and considered the different perspectives of Western and non-Western histories of emotion without privileging one over the other.

The "Olympics" of Historical Sciences

The congress traces its history back to 1898, when the participants of the Congrès international d’histoire held in The Hague (Netherlands) decided to convene a Congrès international d’histoire comparée. Since its first meeting (Paris, 23-9 July 1900), the congress has taken place every five years — except during World War I and II — and has become the biggest world meeting of the international community of the historians.

With the foundation of the International Committee of Historical Sciences (ICHS) and the Comité International des Sciences Historiques (CISH) on 15 May 1926, a permanent organizational form came into being that today encompasses a total of 53 countries. In addition to 14 European metropolises, San Francisco, Montreal, and Sydney have welcomed historians from all continents in the past. In 2015, the nine-million megacity of Jinan became the conference’s first Asian host.

During the closing session it was announced that the 23rd International Congress of Historical Sciences will be held in 2020 in Poznan (Poland).

In the Media

The 22nd ICHS Congress and the Major Theme Day on Historicizing Emotions have aroused a great deal of attention from the media.

Chinanews 24 August 2015 (in Chinese)

Report on the blog of the  Australian Research Council’s Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions

Report on the website of the Shandong University

Marco Jorio, Das Ende des Eurozentrismus?, in: Neue Züricher Zeitung, 3.9.2015, S. 22 (international edition, in German)

Ute Frevert, Historicizing Emotions (CISH Major Theme Day 2), in: Journal of World History Vol. 235, 1 (2016): 16-23 (in Chinese)