CfP: A Usable Past

National Research University Higher School of Economics, Saint PetersburgA Usable Past: New Trends in Applied and Interdisciplinary History

Deadline: 1 February 2014.

On March 28-29, 2014, the Faculty of History of the National Research University Higher School of Economics, Saint Petersburg will host an international conference A Usable Past: New Trends in Applied and Interdisciplinary History. Submissions are welcome.

Today history is becoming more involved in interactions with other disciplines. This helps create new interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research fields. A large part of such research is of an applied nature. Using and interpreting data enables historian to construct “a usable past” as a tool for understanding the present and considering possible avenues of future development. Applied or public history embraces methods and practices dealing with identification, preservation, interpretation, and presentation of historical artifacts, texts, structures, and landscapes. Today environmental and technological historians are making a usable past available to scientists, policy makers and the public at large. Even environmental history is more and more considered as a public history nowadays.

Trends found in the fields of technological history and economic history also indicate high demand for historical studies that supply a usable past. Yet, engineers and economists often try to construct this past on their own, which can lead to simplifications and distortions.
Currently, however, the growth of applied history suffers from poorly developed protocols and modes of dialogue between history and other disciplines. Before introduction in museums and other media landscapes, in education and in political debates, these issues should be discussed by representatives of different disciplines that employ a usable past, including but not limited to economics, sociology, law, natural sciences and technology. We would like to discuss new approaches to the complex problem of historical legacy and heritage that will provide a  platform for creating interactive processes that link the historical object, the historian, and the public.

Russia is a good venue for a conference on applied and interdisciplinary history. Although the Russian academic community suffers from significant barriers to interdisciplinary research, interest to applied history is growing and the dialogue between international and Russian historians is crucial for further development of the field in Russia. Faculty of History at Higher School of Economics at St. Petersburg is a dynamically develo

The discussions at the conference will include but will not be limited to the following topics:ping center for historical education and research which is actively promoting public and applied history   St. Petersburg, the metropolitan imperial city and a UNESCO World site provide a very rich environment for discussions of variegated practices of preservation of material legacy and approaches to historical memory studies.

1.  Development of applied (public) and interdisciplinary history in Europe, Russia and Eurasia.  Historical legacy and historical memory in discourses of public and international  politics.

2. A usable past in environmental, economic, technological and legal history, path dependency and a dialogue with studies of historical memory.

3. Natural and industrial heritage, public museum and media landscapes, visual studies of technology, heritage management, amateur history.

4. History of the future, history and policy-making.

Please, send a short abstracts for 15 minutes presentations (250 words) and CV by 1 February 2014. The organizing committee has possibility of financial support for selected number of participants, especially for PhD students and early career researchers.

Applications should be sent to:

Julia Lajus, Associate Professor, Faculty of History, National Research University Higher School of Economics ( or and Elena Kochetkova, Researcher, Faculty of History, National Research University Higher School of Economics (

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