CfP: Business History Conference Annual Meeting (Event: Athens/Georgia, 03/2010); DL: 01.10.2009

‚The Business History of Everything‘

Athens, Georgia, 25-27 March 2010

Business history for many years was primarily associated with the study of firms and formal business institutions. Recently its scope has widened drastically to include a far greater diversity of economic institutions and practices. It is now widely accepted that Business History is not just about the history of businesses. One of the driving ideas behind the foundation of the BHC journal Enterprise & Society (reflected in the choice of name) was that business historians now had to grapple with much more fluid ideas of what ‚business‘ was and draw on a new range of concepts and approaches to deal with this. There are in fact a very wide range of human enterprises that can usefully be conceptualized as ‚businesses‘ (the organization of production and services for use and gain) and ‚business history‘ provides approaches and methodologies for the historical analysis of economic and social institutions that can be applied across a huge range of fields.

Work that has been primarily conceptualized in different scholarly discourses can be examined (sometimes against the grain) from a ‚business history‘ perspective often with interesting or provocative implications. Just a few examples discussed in Enterprise & Society in the last few years include:

  • the marketplace of Christianity;
  • the culture and commerce of chewing gum;
  • intellectual property law and musical creativity;
  • the commercial aspects of cultural practices;
  • and business histories of murder, sport, holidays, childhood, hunger, war, retirement, sex, fraud, sickness and beauty.

However, as yet, only a limited amount of these types of studies have been fully presented directly at the annual meetings of the Business History Conference.

The Conference theme of ‚The Business History of Everything‘ aims to highlight the dual themes of widening the scope of business history and using its insights to re-vision many cognate areas of historical study. It also seeks to highlight the integration of the methods and practices of business history with other scholarly discourses and aims to stimulate fruitful encounters and interactions and help widen frames of reference and make kindred sub-disciplines more aware of the insights that a ‚business history‘ angle on their problems might generate. Also, in light of the current global economic crisis we would particularly welcome papers on the impact of ruptures and breakdowns, destruction and reconstruction in business history.

Finally, in recognition of Barack Obama’s first year as the first black President of the United States, we intend to feature a major sub-theme on race and ethnicity in business history, including a projected plenary on ‚African American and Ethnic Business History‘ and a series of related panels. Alongside this, as always, the BHC program committee will also be pleased to entertain submissions not directly related to the conference themes. Potential presenters may submit proposals either for individual papers or for entire panels. Individual paper or poster proposals should include a one-page abstract and a one-page curriculum vitae (CV). Each panel proposal should include a cover letter stating the rationale for the session, the name of the panel’s contact person, a one-page abstract and author’s CV for each proposed paper (up to three), and a list of preferred chairs and commentators with contact information.

Proposals also are invited for the Herman E. Krooss Prize for the best dissertation in business history. The Krooss Prize Committee welcomes submissions from recent Ph.D.s (2007-09) in history, economics, business administration, history of science and technology, law, and related fields. To participate in this competition, please indicate so in a cover letter, and include a one-page CV and one-page dissertation abstract. Semi-finalists will be asked to submit copies of their dissertation after initial review of proposals. Finalists will present summaries of their dissertations at the Athens meeting.

BHC also awards the K. Austin Kerr Prize for the best first paper by a Ph.D. candidate or recent Ph.D. (2007-09). If you wish to participate in this competition, please indicate so in your proposal. Proposals accepted for the Krooss Prize panel are not eligible for the Kerr Prize.

The deadline for receipt of all proposals is 1 October 2009. Notification of acceptances will be sent by 15 December 2009. Presenters will be expected to submit abstracts of their papers for posting on the BHC website. In addition, presenters are encouraged to post electronic versions of their papers prior to the meeting, and to submit their papers for inclusion in our on-line proceedings publication, Business and Economic History On-Line. The BHC also offers grants to graduate students who are presenting papers to offset some of the costs of attending the conference; an announcement of application procedures will be sent to those presenting papers at the meeting.

Please send all proposals to Hard copies may be sent or faxed to: Dr. Roger Horowitz, Secretary-Treasurer, Business History Conference, P. O. Box 3630, Wilmington, DE 19807, USA. Phone: (302) 658-2400; fax: (302) 655-3188.

The program committee is:

  • Jeff Fear (chair), University of Redlands;
  • Sally Clarke, University of Texas;
  • Tracey Deutsch, University of Minnesota;
  • Robert Weems, University of Missouri;
  • Shane Hamilton, University of Georgia;
  • Steven Tolliday (BHC President-elect), University of Leeds.

The Oxford Journals Doctoral Colloquium in Business History will be held in conjunction with the 2010 BHC annual meeting. This intensive workshop, sponsored by BHC and funded by Oxford University Press, will take place at the conference venue Wednesday evening, 24 March, and Thursday, 25 March. Participants will work closely with a small, distinguished group of BHC-affiliated scholars, including at least two of its officers. The assembled scholars and students will review dissertation proposals, consider relevant literatures and research strategies, and discuss the business history profession. Limited to ten students, it is intended for doctoral candidates in the early stages of their dissertation projects. Those interested in participating should submit a statement of interest, a preliminary or final dissertation prospectus, and a CV, and must arrange for a letter of support from your dissertation supervisor (or prospective supervisor).

All application materials should be sent to Roger Horowitz by December 1, 2009, via email or fax 302-655-3188. All participants will receive a stipend that will partially cover costs associated with attending. The review committee will notify all applicants of its decisions by January 15.


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