International Research School in Conceptual History and Political Thought


DATES: 3-19 August 2010
PRICES: Read more  (This link leads away from Concepta pages)
COORDINATOR: Mr. Sami Syrjämäki, sami.syrjamaki (at)

Place: Mainbuilding room 21, Fabianinkatu 33, 5th floor

INFORMATION ON HOW TO APPLY ETC. See Helsinki Summer School -pages.


The presumption that concepts, arguments, and ideas are timeless has been replaced in recent decades by an awareness of their unavoidable historicity and temporality. Based on methods proposed by such scholars as Reinhart  Koselleck, Quentin Skinner, John Pocock, and Michel Foucault which focus on the use of language in a historical context, conceptual history serves as an innovative and  rigorous approach to the analysis of key social and political  concepts, arguments and ideas. The goal of conceptual history is to illuminate the concepts and ideas that are central to the operation of political and social life through the study of their migration, reception, translation, and diffusion through time and space. Conceptual analysis involves looking at larger semantic, discursive, ideological and rhetorical settings in which concepts are given meaning. Doing conceptual history therefore demands familiarity with a variety of linguistically oriented approaches to discourse, ideology as well as rhetoric.

In the summer of 2010, Concepta, International Research School in Conceptual History and Political Thought, and its partner institutions will organise the sixth Introduction to Conceptual History summer school. An international team of distinguished scholars and visiting lecturers will help participants critically examine the chief concepts in the humanities and social sciences from new perspectives. The summer school has two main objectives. First, it introduces students to the fundamental aspects of the theory and methodology of conceptual history, which they can then use as tools in their own research. Second, it explores contemporary trends in conceptual history through case studies.

The course includes a series of lectures, a seminar and workshops. It is designed for Finnish and international PhD and advanced Master’s degree students from various academic fields. Interest in the humanities and/or political thought is an asset.

The successful completion of the Summer School will require attending the lectures, seminar and workshops as well as the completion of a written assignment. To receive the six ECTS credits, students must actively participate in the course and write a 10-15 page essay. Students who wish to receive 10 ECTS credits must submit a 20-25 page essay in addition to active participation. Students should submit all essays to the organisers approximately one month after the conclusion of the Summer School. Participants are encouraged to contact the organisers if they would like to present their own work in progress in conceptual history and related fields in the workshops.


University of Helsinki

Concepta, International Research School in Conceptual History and Political Thought

Centre for Nordic Studies (CENS) at the Renvall Institute, University of Helsinki

POLITU, Finnish Political Science Doctoral School

Centre of Excellence in Political Thought and Conceptual Change, University of Jyväskylä

Danish Research School for History



Tue 3 August
Rector’s Reception

Wed 4 August
9 – 10  Introduction Henrik Stenius and Sami Syrjämäki
10 – 12 The History of Concepts  and Intellectual History Martin J. Burke
13 – 15 Introduction to Conceptual History I. Jan Ifversen
15.30 – 17 Introduction to Conceptual History II. Jan Ifversen

Thu 5 August
10 – 12 Doing Conceptual History in the Past and in the Present Jan Ifversen
13 – 15 Methodologies Jan Ifversen
15.30 – 17 The History of Concepts and the Cambridge School Martin J. Burke

Fri 6 August
10 – 12 Good Neighbours: Historical Semantics and Discourse Analysis Jan Ifversen
13 – 15 The History of Concepts and the History of Ideologies Martin J. Burke
15.30 – 17 The Sources for Conceptual History Martin J. Burke and Jan Ifversen


Mon 9 August
10 – 12 Bielefeld or Cambridge? Jyväskylä and New York Martin J. Burke
13 – 15 Alumni lecture: Doing Conceptual History with Skinner, Gallie & Wittgenstein Sami Syrjämäki
15.30 – 17 Work–in–Progress Workshop Chair: Jan Ifversen
   Rieke Schäfer: Political Metaphors and Conceptual Change
   Frank Poulsen: Cosmopolitan and Cosmopolitanism

Tue 10 August
10 – 12 Work–in–Progress Session  Chair: Martin J. Burke
    Rosario López: Some considerations on Mill’s concept of rationality
    Christian Houlberg Skov: Danish conservatism
13 – 14:30 Visiting lecture: Visions for Comparative Conceptual
History of Parliamentary Debates Pasi Ihalainen
14:30-16 Alumni lecture: Using Conceptual History in the Philosophy of Science Inkeri Koskinen

Wed 11 August
10 – 12 The Finnish Project – a Contribution to Conceptual History Henrik Stenius and Jani Marjanen
13 – 14:30 Visiting Lecture: Reinhart Koselleck’s Arbeit am Begriff Niklas Olsen
14:30 – 16 Alumni Lecture: Republicanism, republic, respublica : some comments on the Cambridge School and the Atlantic republican tradition  Gabriel Entin

18:00 - The Course Reception

Thu 12 August
10 – 12 Conceptual History and Political Theory João Feres Júnior
13 – 16 Contemporary Trends in Conceptual History Lecture:The Study of Asymmetrical Counter Concepts – a Conversation with Postcolonial Theory João Feres Júnior

Fri 13 August
10 – 12 Workshop (based on required reading) João Feres Júnior
13 – 16 Work–in–Progress Session Chair: João Feres Júnior
    Teemu Häkkinen: The British Parliament and its role in decisions to go to war 1982-2003
    Cathrine Owen: An investigation into post-communist temporalities


Mon 16 August
10 – 12 Alumni lecture: HOC as a Methodology; the History of the Concept of the Critic as a Case Study Sinai Rusinek
13 – 16 Conceptual History in a Global Frame: Entanglements and Translations Margrit Pernau

Tue 17 August
10 – 12 Civility and Civilisation Margrit Pernau
13 – 16 Work–in–Progress Session Chair: Margrit Pernau
    Nicholas Miller: The concept of the family in Scottish and French enlightenment thought
    Niels Hegewisch: Administration and separation of powers in 19th century German philosophy

Wed 18 August
13 – 15  Conclusion and Conspectus: Beyond Histories of Concepts? Margrit Pernau and Martin J. Burke

Thu 19 August

Contemporary Trends in Conceptual History seminar
Place: Room 673, Porthania, Yliopistonkatu 3, 6th floor
Free for all audiences

11:00 - 11:45 Gad Prudovsky: Between Ethics and Epistemology of Interpretation
11:45 - 12:00 BREAK
12:00 – 13:30 Irène Herrmann: Magnetic Concepts? The Examples of Humanitarianism and Anti-Semitism in Switzerland
                       Helge Jordheim: Multiple temporalities - assessing the implications of Koselleck's theory of historical times

See also thursday 12th of August: Contemporary Trends in Conceptual History Lecture:The Study of Asymmetrical Counter Concepts – a Conversation with Postcolonial Theory João Feres Júnior: