Call for Papers

Negotiating Hierarchy: Status and Rank in European History

The 13th Annual Graduate Conference in European History (GRACEH), to be held at the
Central European University (Budapest), April 25–27, 2019

“I am powerful. And I am only the most lowly gatekeeper. But
from room to room stand gatekeepers, each more powerful
than the other. I can’t endure even one glimpse of the third.”
(Franz Kafka)

Hierarchies—as a fact and as a representation—are a seemingly permanent feature of human societies. For centuries, ideas such as the Great Chain of Being had a prominent place in religious, political, and scientific thought, spreading as far afield as biological theory. Often, hierarchies have been taken for granted, allowing them to self-perpetuate; conversely, societal rejection of these hierarchies has resulted in some of history’s greatest upheavals.

Debates on social hierarchy today often draw back to foundational authors like Karl Marx, Max Weber, and Vilfredo Pareto. Since their time, discussions of power, authority, order, tradition, and other key facets these authors have invoked in their work have remained at the forefront of the humanities and social sciences. A dialogue between disciplines such as sociology, anthropology, economics, legal science, and history is crucial to any complex interpretation of historical events.

Among the varied fields of historical research, issues of status have primarily been dealt with by social history. Having rethought the relationship between structure and agency, as well as between the material and the cultural, social historians have recently shifted to a more nuanced understanding of social phenomena. While focusing mainly on this culturally-oriented social history, our conference also invites contributions from other fields of historical research, and from other disciplines.

The analysis of hierarchies from antiquity to the present day helps us both to understand some of the key issues in contemporary Europe, and to plot a course for its future. To this end, we want to engage with recent rejoinders to the grand debates related to hierarchies. This conference thus aims to bring together young and early-career scholars, focusing on various eras and areas, to discuss the realities, representations, and overarching consequences of hierarchies in European history. We welcome proposals for papers that discuss various types of social, cultural, political, organizational, and intellectual hierarchies, their persistence and changes. Particular emphasis should be on the issues such as gender, class and social standing, race, and on their intersections.

Topics and themes may include, but are not limited to the following:
• Hierarchies during anciens and revolutionary régimes
• Hegemony, dependency, and hierarchy between states
• A political economy of inequality
• Gender, race, ethnicity, and social status
• Impact of mobility on societal hierarchies and individual social standing
• Labor, organizational, and workplace hierarchies
• Discursive construction and deconstruction of hierarchies
• Symbolic representations of status and hierarchy
• Forms of canon and classification
• Historiography on social status, and the status of historiography

Paper abstracts of up to 300 words and a brief biography with full contact details (email, telephone, postal address) should be sent to by December 16, 2018.

Participants will receive a notification of acceptance by January 7, 2019. Final papers (up to 2000 words) should be submitted by March 25 of 2019 so they can be pre-circulated to commentators in a timely fashion.

Financial assistance for accepted speakers who do not have access to institutional support will be available upon request.

PDF version: Call for Papers GRACEH 2019 

Photo credit: Luis De la Peña.