2021 Call for Papers: The Ubiquity of Business

The Ubiquity of Business

Annual Meeting of the Business History Conference

Westin Book Cadillac Hotel (Detroit, Michigan)

March 11-13, 2021

Proposals due October 1, 2020

The theme of the 2021 Business History Conference annual meeting will be “The Ubiquity of Business.” A common refrain today is that business is everywhere, be it in terms of the application of the profit motive to an ever-widening array of activities or to the spread of capitalism around the world. Both of these phenomena imply a change from the past. Yet the nature and extent of that change remains largely assumed and underspecified. Business has played a fundamental role in people’s lives through time and across the globe – as employer, producer, seller, consumer and, more broadly as a key societal and political actor. This year’s conference theme will provide an opportunity for business historians to contribute greater depth and sophistication to our understanding of these perceived trends by providing a critical engagement with notions of the historical development of business around the world, elaboration of its presence in expected and unexpected venues (both geographically and across time), and the implications of this business presence on society more generally. It also provides a venue for developing a dialogue with other branches of historical research and social science disciplines by illustrating the significance of business history research.

For the 2021 annual meeting of the Business History Conference, we welcome proposals that explore:

  • The existence of business and the application of business methods in diverse and novel settings from any period, society or region
  • The spread and dissemination of business ideas and approaches around the world and across activities
  • The non-market strategies of businesses (including owners and managers) and the response of other societal actors to those strategies, including corporate political activities, corporate social responsibility and philanthropy
  • The challenges and opportunities for developing a fuller and broader engagement between business historians, other historians and social scientists in researching the ways business impacts on the lives of all.

The program committee will be chaired by Lucy Newton (University of Reading) and includes Paula de la Cruz Fernández (University of Florida), Marina Moskowitz (University of Wisconsin – Madison), Susie Pak (St. John’s University), Dan Wadhwani (University of Southern California and Copenhagen Business School), along with BHC President Neil Rollings (University of Glasgow).

While we encourage proposals to take up these themes, papers addressing all other topics in business history will receive equal consideration by the program committee, in accordance with BHC policy. Proposals may be submitted for individual papers or for entire panels. Each presentation proposal should include a one-page (300 words) abstract and one-page curriculum vitae (CV) for each participant. Panel proposals (unless a roundtable) should include a maximum of four individual presentations. All panel proposals should have a cover letter containing a title, a one-paragraph panel description, and the names and affiliations of a recruited chair and commentator, as well as the contact information for the panel organizer. To submit a proposal go to https://thebhc.org/2021-bhc-meeting and click on the link https://thebhc.org/proposal-instructions.