Date: October 8 to 10, 2015
The aim of the interdisciplinary conference “Humanity” – a History of European Concepts in Practice is to analyze the varieties and shifting meanings of the term “Humanity” within the European context as well as in the context of Europe’s relations to other world regions from the 16th to the 20th centuries. The term defined in an English dictionary of 1755 as “1) The nature of a man, 2) Humankind; the collective body of mankind, 3) Benevolence; tenderness, 4) Philology; grammatical studies”, offers a wide range of starting points in research. Thus, references to “Humanity” can be found in ever increasing numbers on the research agenda of different disciplines.
In our interdisciplinary conference we seek to investigate the intertwined theoretical debates about “Humanity” on the one hand, and their diverse consequences in practice on the other hand. Having religious, colonial, social, and gender perspectives in mind, theologians, philosophers, legal and literary scholars as well as historians will discuss the issue of “Humanity” in a broader dialogue in order to connect their research agendas. In doing so, we will focus on the following issues:
- Morality and Human Dignity
- Violence and International Law
- Social Inequalities
By taking a comparative approach and exploring the intersections of religious studies, international law, philosophy, and literature as well as the history of humanitarianism and human rights the conference will be organized along four leading key questions:
- Is the term “Humanity” used as a central point of reference in your sources? If this is the case, to what extend is the term connected to the emergence of normative concepts, implying moral and religious commandments, humanitarian obligations, international law, and human rights?
- Which differences and similarities can be identified in the context of various linguistic, cultural and political backgrounds? Are there any equivalent or alternative terms used?
- Which historical actors explicitly refer to the term “Humanity”? What was the purpose of doing so? Did it significantly contribute to overcome existing divisions, or did it rather foster the emergence of new differences?
- Finally, what transformations of the definition and meaning of “Humanity” can be identified within the period of these 400 years that the conference focuses on?
The conference will be taking place at the Leibniz Institute of European History in Mainz, Germany. For further information please contact Fabian Klose or Mirjam Thulin at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.