Turning Points: ‘Turns’ in Recent Historiography

14 December 2023 — 16 December 2023

FBK Aula Grande

Fondazione Bruno Kessler - Polo delle Scienze Umane e sociali

FBK Aula Grande

Fondazione Bruno Kessler - Polo delle Scienze Umane e sociali

The conference reflects on the meaning of a series of recent historiographical turns and on their impact on our interpretation of the past. Are they signs of a highly fertile moment of historical innovation and critique? Or are they just a sign of crisis within historical studies and (more in general) within the humanities and social sciences? What are the relationships between them? How do they influence/react/relate to each other? Highlighting and historizing some of the more recent historiographical turns, the aim of the conference is to reflect on the meaning of turns and on their impact on our knowledge and interpretation of the past. In particular, the conference will focus on the Spatial Turn, Global Turn, Mobility Turn, Material Turn, Visual Turn, Biographical Turn, Animal Turn, Environmental Turn, Digital Turn, Archival Turn, Gender Turn, and Emotional Turn.

Organizing Committee:
Maurizio Cau
Christoph Cornelissen
Gabriele D’Ottavio
Massimo Rospocher
Sandra Toffolo



Thursday, 14 December

Massimo Rospocher (FBK-ISIG), Sandra Toffolo (FBK-ISIG), Gabriele D’Ottavio (Università di Trento)

Susanne Rau (University of Erfurt)
The Spatial Turn and its Impact on the Narration of Historical Times: A Critical Review

Discussant: Fabrizio Nevola (University of Exeter)

Giuseppe Marcocci (University of Oxford)
The Global Turn: Two or Three Things That I Know About It

Discussant: Alberto Masoero (Università di Torino)


Rosa Salzberg (Università di Trento)
The Mobility Turn: Nomads and Natives: Exploring Mobility and Migration in the Past

Discussant: Tania Rossetto (Università di Padova)

Friday, 15 December

9.30- 10.30
Anne Gerritsen (University of Warwick)
Material Turns: The Materiality of Global Connections and Mobility

Discussant: Carlotta Sorba (Università di Padova)

Annette Vowinckel (Centre for Contemporary History Potsdam)
The Visual Turn: A Long Farewell to Historicist Text Fetishism

Discussant: Maurizio Cau (FBK-ISIG)


Christoph Cornelissen (University of Frankfurt)
Biographical Turn or Rediscovery of an Older Form? Explanations for the Phenomenal Surge of Historical Biographies since the 1990s

Discussant: Ilaria Porciani (Università di Bologna)

Karen Jones (University of Kent)
The Animal Turn: Agency, Activism, and the Anthropocene

Discussant: Giulia Guazzaloca (Università di Bologna)

Julia Thomas (University of Notre Dame)
Three Environmental Turns: The Environment, Climate Change, and the Anthropocene as Alternative Frameworks for History

Discussant: Giacomo Bonan (Università di Torino)


Jo Guldi (Southern Methodist University)
The Digital Turn: Historians as Critical Arbiters of the Flood of Data That Surrounds Us

Discussant: Angela Dressen (Villa I Tatti, Harvard University)

Saturday, 16 December

Olivier Poncet (École nationale des chartes)
The Archival Turn: Back to Basics or New Deal?

Discussant: Katia Occhi (FBK-ISIG)

Benno Bastian Gammerl (European University Institute)
The Gender Turn: Empowering Histories of Women and Intersectional Critiques of Cis-Hetero-Patriarchy

Discussant: Fernanda Alfieri (Università di Bologna)


Kerstin Maria Pahl (Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin)
The Emotional Turn: On Histories of Mentality, Experience, and Feeling (with Some Thoughts on the Problem of Sources)

Discussant: Alessandro Arcangeli (Università di Verona)

Final discussion




Registration to this event is mandatory.


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