History and Social Sciences

Departmental Seminar

Organised by Prof. Alexander Etkind and Prof. Pavel Kolář 
Thursdays, 15:10-17:00, Sala Belvedere
Admin. Assistant: Francesca Parenti
Starts on 14 January 2016
Seminar readings


Seminar description

Throughout the twentieth century and beyond, the historical discipline has engaged in a series of encounters with various social sciences – economics, sociology, politics 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 the social sciences. We will explore different methodologies that emerged from historians’ engagement with social scientific enquiry, focusing both on ‘classic’ topics and current discussions around cultural anthropology and sociology. Throughout the semester, we will pay close attention to the different ways of ‘reading’ societies and cultures that such cross-disciplinary borrowings have produced.

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


14 January: History and Social Sciences: A Twentieth Century Dialogue

  • Peter Burke, History and Social Theory, Ithaca 1993, 1-21.
  • Geoff Eley, A Crooked Line. From Cultural History to the History Of Society, Ann Arbor 2005, 13-50, 183-203 (Electr. resource EUI)
  • William Sewell, Logics of History, Chicago 2005, 1-21 (Electr. resource EUI)


21 January: The Concept of Class and Historical Analysis 

  • Karl Marx, 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte.
  • Patrick Joyce, Narratives of Class, in Class, ed. by Patrick Joyce, Oxford 1995, 322-332.
  • Gareth Stedman Jones, Class, Experience, and Politics, in Joyce, Class, 150-154.
  • Geoff Eley/Keith Nield, Introduction, in The Future of Class in History. What's Left of the Social? Ann Arbor 2007, 1-17.


 28 January: State, Power, Authority: Weber for Historians

  • Maw Weber, The Types of Legitimate Rule, in Economy and Society, 212-216, 241-254.
  • Bryan Turner, Max Weber, From History To Modernity, London 1992, 191-208.
  • Philip S. Gorski, “Calvinism and State Formation in Early Modern Europe”, in State/Culture. State Formation after the Cultural Turn. Cornell UP 1999, 147-181.
  • Guenther Roth, History and Sociology in the Work of Max Weber, in British Journal of Sociology, Vol. 27, No. 3, (Sep1976), 306-318.

Additional Readings:

  • Reinhard Bendix, Max Weber, An Intellectual Portrait, London 1966, 285-328.
  • Stephen Turner (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Weber, Cambridge 2000, 1-18, 83-116.


4 February: Imperial Sociology and Public Opinion

  • George Steinmetz, “A Child of the Empire: British Sociology and Colonialism, 1940s–1960s”, Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences, 2013, 1–26.
  • Andrew Zimmerman, German Sociology and the Empire, In Sociology and Empire: The Imperial Entanglements of a Discipline, ed. by George Steinmetz. Duke University Press 2013.
  • Timur Kuran. Private Truths, Public Lies. The Social Consequences of Preference Falsification. Harvard 1997, ch.1, 4.

Additional Readings:


11 February: Colonial Anthropology and Rebellion 

  • Susan Back-Morse, Hegel, Haiti and Universal History, Pittsburg 2009, 3-79.
  • Alexander Etkind, Internal Colonization: Russia’s Imperial Experience, Cambridge 2011, 173-193.
  • Peter Mandler, Return from the Natives. How Margaret Mead Won the Second World War and Lost the Cold War, New Haven 2013, 1-44, 223-254.
  • Vivek Chibber, Postcolonial theory and the specter of capital, Verso 2013, 1-54.


18 February: Ideology and Hegemony

  • Antonio Gramsci, Selected Readings from Prison Notebooks.
  • Pierre Bourdieu and Terry Eagleton, Doxa and Common Life, in Mapping Ideology, ed. by Slavoj Žižek, London 1994, 265-277.
  • Raymond Williams, Ideology, in Marxism and Literature, Oxford 1977, 55-74.

Additional reading:

  • Perry Anderson Components of the National Culture, in: New Left Review I/50, July-August 1968.


25 February: Social History of Things

  • Bruno Latour, Politics of Nature. How to Bring the Sciences into Democracy. Harvard 2004, 1-8, 184-231.
  • Timothy Mitchell, Society, Economy, and the State Effect, in State/Culture. State Formation after the Cultural Turn, Cornell UP 1999, 76-98.
  • Bruno Latour, An Inquiry into Modes of Existence. An Anthropology of the Moderns, Harvard 2013, 2-48
  • Jane Bennett. Vibrant Matter. A Political Ecology of Things, Duke 2010, 1-20.


10 March: The Critique of Everyday Life

  • From The Everyday Life Reader, ed. by Ben Highmore, London 2002, 47-49, 63-75, 262-270.
  • Alf Lüdtke: Introduction: what is the history of everyday life and who are its practitioners? in idem (ed.): The history of everyday life: Reconstructing historical experiences and ways of life, Princeton 1995, 3–40.


17 March: Psyences

  • Nikolas Rose, The Psychological Complex: Psychology, Politics and Society in England, 1869-1939, London 1985, 1-11, 39-62, 220-232.
  • Eli Zaretsky. Secrets of the Soul. A Social and Cultural History of Psychoanalysis, New York 2005, 117-217.
  • Alexander Etkind, “Trotsky’s offspring: Revolutionaries, psychoanalysts and the Birth of ‘Freudo-Marxism”, in The Times Literary Supplement, 9 August 2013.



Page last updated on 18 August 2017

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