Decolonising Archives, Rethinking Canons Writing Intellectual Histories of Global Entanglements

March 26-28, 2021

Our larger aim in this conference is hinged on two primary concerns.

One is of bringing to the fore works in intellectual history and political thought, framed by both context specificity and vernacular sources. The second important goal is to question the equivocal process of canonization and bring together scholars working on non-canonical intellectual traditions, texts, and figures.

Decolonising Archives, Rethinking Canons : Writing Intellectual Histories of Global Entanglements

Intellectual history and political thought in recent times has taken a ‘global’ turn, in an attempt to move beyond the dominance of ‘nation’ and ‘modern’ in historical analysis. The most significant intellectual contribution of these works have been to question the ‘globality’ of intellectual history traditions, and in turn urge scholars to introduce spaces beyond the Anglophone world, within the realm of intellectual history, as fertile grounds of ideations. This has also brought to light the need to nuance several methodological tendencies in the historiography of intellectual history, which we intend to provide a platform for, in this conference.

These new interventions in the field of intellectual history have unveiled questions on the role of linguistic geo-politics in the writing of intellectual history. How can we write intellectual histories and histories of political thought from non-Anglophone life worlds? In what ways can we reimagine the ‘archive’ in an attempt to decolonise the discipline of intellectual history? Do we rely entirely on English sources for larger intelligibility, or should we attempt to rewrite the vocabularies of intellectual history writing using vernacular registers? What role would canonical ideas play in these vernacular intellectual histories? How do we prevent intellectual history from becoming an exclusively elite exercise and incorporate the voices and presence of actors from the margins of history?

The three-day conference will be hosted online, on the 26-28 March, 2021.

We would like to thank the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, and the Faculty of History, University of Cambridge, for its generous support of this venture.

The recordings of our panels and roundtables are now available for viewing and sharing

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