Skip to content

History and Social Sciences

Departmental Seminar

Prof. Luca Molà, Prof. Lucy Riall, Prof. Stéphane Van Damme and Dr. Simon Jackson (JMF)

Mondays, 15:10-17:00, sala Belvedere

Admin. Assistant: Roberta Saccon 

Starts on 14 October 2013


Seminar description

Throughout the twentieth century and beyond, the historical discipline has engaged in a series of encounters with various social sciences – economics, sociology and anthropology – in the hopes of creating more refined tools for analyzing society and social relations. This seminar will examine some key moments in the ongoing dialogue between history and social sciences. We will look first at the different traditions that emerged from the historical engagement with social scientific enquiry, focusing in particular on the Annales School, Marxist social history and Microhistory, before we look at current discussions around anthropology and economics. We will also consider recent attempts to revive social scientific perspectives in historical inquiry via the development of ‘deep’ history and historical geography. Throughout the semester, we will pay close attention to the different ways of ‘reading’ society that such cross-disciplinary borrowings have produced.

Participants in the seminar will take turns presenting the readings each week and launching discussion.


14 October - Long Traditions? History and Social Sciences 

  • M. Weber, ‘Science as a vocation’ (Daedalus, 87/1, 1958, 111-134)
  • W. J. Sewell, ‘The political unconsciousness of social and cultural history, or confessions of a former quantitative historian, Logics of History. Social Theory and Social Transformation (Chicago, 2005)
  • J. Revel, ‘History and the Social Sciences’, in The Cambridge History of Science, vol 7 (Cambridge, 2003)


21 October - The End of the Annales Paradigm

  • ‘History and Social Science: A Critical Turning Point’ and ‘Let's Try the Experiment’ (1988-89), in Histories. French Constructions of the Past, eds. Jacques Revel and Lynn Hunt, New York 1995, pp. 480-491
  • Roger Chartier, ‘The World as Representation’ (1989), in Histories. French Constructions of the Past, eds. Jacques Revel and Lynn Hunt, New York 1995
  • Annales. Histoire, Sciences Sociales, Editorial, 2012
  • David Armitage and Jo Guldi, ‘The Return of the Longue Durée: An Anglo-American Perspective’, Annales. Histoire, Sciences Sociales, 69 (2014) (forthcoming)


28 October -  Marxist Social History and History from Below

  • E.P. Thomson, The Making of the English Working Class, London 1966 (ed. 1980), pp. 8-16, 297-346
  • Selina Todd, ‘People Matter’, History Workshop Journal, 76 (2013), pp. 259-265
  • Sumit Sarkar, ‘Orientalism Revisited: Saidian Frameworks in the Writings of Modern Indian History’, Oxford Literary Review, 16 (1994), pp. 205-224
  • Ranajit Guha, ‘On Some Aspects of the Historiography of Colonial India’ in Subaltern Studies I. Writing on South Asian History and Society, ed. Ranajit Guha, Oxford 1982, pp. 1-8


4 November - Microhistory and Alltagsgeschichte 

  • Giovanni Levi, ‘On Microhistory’, in New  Perspectives on Historical Writing, ed. Peter Burke, Cambridge 1991, pp. 93-113
  • Francesca Trivellato, ‘Is There a Future for Italian Microhistory in the Age of Global History?’, California Italian Studies, 2 (2011), available at
  • Alf Ludtke, ‘People Working. Everyday Life and German Fascism’, History Workshop Journal, 50 (2000), pp. 74-92
  • Geoff Eley, ‘Labor History, Social History, Alltagsgeschichte: Experience, Culture and the Politics of the Everyday – A New Direction for German Social History?’, Journal of Modern History, 61 (1989), pp. 297-343


11 November -  Beyond capitalism : History and Economics 

  • Jan De Vries,’The Industrial Revolution and the Industrious Revolution’, The Journal of Economic History, 54 (1994), pp. 249-270
  • Timothy Mitchell, ‘The Work of Economics: How a Discipline Makes its World’, European Journal of Sociology, 46 (2005), pp. 297-320
  • Douglass C. North, ‘Institutions’, The Journal of Economic Perspectives, 5 (1991), pp. 97-112
  • C. Wright Mills, The Power Elite, Oxford 2000, pp. 269-298


18 November - What about the others ? History and Anthropology

  • Roger Chartier, ‘Texts, Symbols, and Frenchness’, Journal of Modern History, 57 (1985), pp. 682-695
  • William M. Reddy, ‘Against Constructionism: The Historical Ethnography of Emotions’, Current Anthropology, 38 (1997), pp. 327-351
  • George Marcus, ‘Ethnography in/of the World System: The Emergence of Multi-Sited Ethnography’, in Ethnography through Thick an Thin, Annual Review of Anthropology, 24 (1995), pp. 95-117


25 November -  Networks

  • Bruno Latour, Reassembling the Social. An Introduction to Actor-Network-Theory, Oxford 2007, pp. 1-17
  • John Law, ‘Notes on the Theory of the Actor-Network: Ordering, Strategy and Heterogeneity’, Systems  Practice, 5 (1992), pp. 379-393
  • Simon Schaffer, ‘Newton on the Beach: The Information Order of Principia Mathematica’, History of Science, 47 (2009), pp. 243-276
  • Patrick Joyce, The Rules of Freedom. Liberalism and the Modern City, London 2003, pp. 1-19


2 December - Geohistory

  • David Landes, The Wealth and Poverty of Nations. Why Some Are So Rich and Some So Poor, London 1999, pp. 3-28
  • Faruk Tabak, The Waning of the Mediterranean, 1550-1870. A Geohistorical Approach, Baltimore 2008, pp. 1-29


9 December -  Are They Joking? Counterfactual, Big and Deep History 

  • Quentin Deluermoz and Pierre Singaravélou, “Explorer le champ des possibles. Approches contrefactuelles et futurs non advenus en histoire”, Revue d’Histoire Moderne et Contemporaine, 59 (2012), pp. 70-95
  • David Christian, Maps of Time. An Introduction to Big History, Berkeley-Los Angeles 2004, pp. 1-14
  • Andrew Shryock and Daniel Lord Smail, Deep History. The Architecture of Past and Present, Berkeley-Los Angeles 2011, pp. 3-51




Page last updated on 13 July 2020

Back to top